Tiger Woods is just the world’s best golfer.

December 14, 2009

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO  @NYCA

I am not pissed at Tiger.

I didn’t invest hundreds of millions in him like TAG Heuer, Nike, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette.

I didn’t even buy his clubs or red shirts.

I did buy into his supernatural, god-like ability to play the game I am completely dedicated to. And he has not let me down. He’s an athlete, I’m a fan. We have our roles. He hits amazing shots, I cheer. Deal.

Some say he let down golf.  He didn’t. Contrary to what his late father proclaimed, Tiger is not bigger than the game. I suppose this is proof. Golf doesn’t cheat.

I don’t think he screwed golfers either – well, only if those girls played golf.

So why is everyone so upset?

Because with Tiger – unlike Jordan and Kobe and all the other athletes who’ve done the same thing – it’s different. Was from the start.

His first Nike commercial when Tiger joined the brand set it all up. It said, in the first person, “Hello world, there are still courses I can not play because of the color of my skin.”

He made it about more than athletic prowess. Tiger was standing up not as a golfer but as a representative of his race. He wanted fairness, equality, outside the game. Fair enough.

There was the even more famous ad that followed, showing kids of all nationalities on the course, repeating the phrase: “I am Tiger Woods.”

This was more than an equipment ad because Tiger was more than just a golfer. Golfers didn’t just want to play with what he played, or play like him (remember Michael Jordan’s “I want to be like Mike” campaign from the same advertiser). They wanted to be him.

But now we see who he is, the personal side of him, and we are repulsed because we thought we knew him so well through millions of stories, videos, interviews read, shared, and commented on, that we wanted to be him. To the kids, he was them. Maybe he was the best of all of us. So when he sunk low, he brought us with him.

We can’t trust our politicians. They lie.

Or our corporations. They cheat us out of our 401K.

Or our banks. They sell us loans we can’t repay.

Or our clergy. They touch boys.

And now we can’t trust Tiger Woods.

So who can we turn to?

Ourselves. Oh boy, we can’t adopt another’s morality, character, integrity? We can’t be what we thought Tiger Woods was? Nope. Get up and look yourself in the soul and ask, “Are you Tiger Woods? Or are you more? Are you you?” It’s okay, you can say yes, you won’t be cheating on him. Tiger’s transgression changed his relationship with the world: his advertisers, his kids, his wife, and us. And, in part, that’s a good thing because it teaches us to be our own heroes.

It’s fine to want to bomb 360 yard drives with a Major on the line. It’s fair to covet his golf abilities. And it’s also good to know who you are admiring and why. You owe that to yourself.  Tiger Woods has been someone very special to millions around the world. He’s done some wonderful things outside golf – his foundation that helps so many children is one. And, yes, he has been caught cheating on his family. Some will one day forgive him.  I think that’s a good thing.

The truth is, even if we do forgive him, he’s not Tiger Woods any more. He’s just the world’s best golfer.

A fresh angle to legitimize beer pong?

June 2, 2009

By Lisa Harder, Associate Media Director @NYCA

Is Anheuser-Busch’s sponsorship of Hard Bat Ping Pong just another attempt to corner the beer pong market?


Back in 2005 the company called off its promotion of “Bud Pong,” a game created by the brewery eerily similar to the ever popular beer pong but with one key difference – it was supposed to be played with water. The Bud Pong campaign launched complete with branded tables, balls and glasses to distributors in 47 markets, several in college towns. The distributors helped organize tournaments and Anheuser-Busch even explored trade marking the name. When executives found Bud Pong was being played improperly – with beer – all the fun came to a screeching halt. Drinking games will always be played with the cheapest, chuggable beer on the market. Until the product changes, Bud will continue to be a natural choice to fill those Solo cups.

Now, four years later, Anheuser-Busch is hoping that we have all forgotten about the failed campaign and is hoping to revive a more family friendly pastime as the lead sponsor of the Bud Light Hard Bat Ping Pong tournament. The brewery has gone on record as saying “This is about the residual goodwill we all feel for the better times we grew up with. This conjures up family.” The Bud Light Hard Bat Ping Pong tournament is intended to reach drinkers at the grass roots level and at the same time emphasize on the fun angle of the brand.

Executives behind the project believe that ping pong will be an emerging trend in this time of recession when the country nostalgic for family values and simpler times.

Do they believe ping pong is the next pastime to sweep the nation or is Hard Bat the more politically correct way to reach beer-pongers? I would argue the latter.

A good sponsorship should not only tap into the passion of the target audience but also resonate with the brand image. Bud Pong was an obvious choice based on consumer insight, but a misstep for a brand which attempts to promote responsible drinking. On the other hand, Hard Bat may conjure up fond memories of more wholesome times, but among who? I can’t help but wonder if the Bud Pong backlash pushed marketers of the brewery too far in the opposite direction. Where they once forgot about the brand, they may have now forgotten their audience.