What would Eldrick do? I am not Tiger Woods. Tiger, are you?

August 9, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

I am not Tiger Woods. Tiger, are you?

Tiger, this must sound weird to ask, considering you are the most famous person on the planet – but, do you know who you are?

Excuse me for this personal question, but I feel like we are connected somehow. And I have a bit of guilt with this “transgression” situation for having pressured you into being what I thought you should be. And the pressure was so extreme it forced you away from ever being who you might have always been. And to complicate the matter, I have been secretly pretending, like the commercial said, that “I am Tiger Woods.”

Every win of yours was ours. We all drove you hard, applying our mass will, pushing you further up the leaderboard, into the history books, away from us, so you could be better than us. And in pushing so hard, removing you from yourself. We never intended to lead you away from the rules of decency.

Like it or not, we’re all involved here. Yeah, you, me and two billion others. And yet, in the end, your transgressions are yours to live with. That’s the bad business of idol worship.

Now, for the record, and we know how we are attached to records: I am not asking whether you know what you have done on the course and off. It’s been documented.

Knowing yourself is not simple, especially with all the labels placed on the world’s most well-known person. You’ve got “world’s greatest golfer – ever,” “prodigy,” “elder statesman (Ryder Cup),” “celebrity at 2 years old,” “foundation owner,” “Asian,” “African-American,” “husband,” “father,” “son,” “hero,” “corporate endorser,” “adulterer,” “liar,” “billionaire,” “legend,” “friend,” “teacher,” and “role model” for starters.

It must be harder than any Sunday at a Major to live your life so publicly – so much so, maybe it wasn’t your life.

With all this, it’s tough to tell who is Tiger Woods.

But I come bearing an answer: change your name.

Take the name on your birth certificate. You can start over again, Eldrick. Maybe that original name switch started the whole series of events. Names are powerful mirrors, windows. Open yours.

It’s better than running off to board your yacht, Privacy, because as you know you’ll find no privacy there – big as that boat is. Sooner than later you’ll run into Tiger, the stowaway.

You’d still be somewhat famous, though, should that be something you want to keep. Google “Tiger Woods” and you get 56,700,000 searches. “Eldrick Woods” gets 429,000.

You might wonder would Eldrick have done the things Tiger did? Will he hit the shots that Tiger can? Can he fix the mess that Tiger has made?

Try this: “I am Eldrick Woods! I am Eldrick Woods.”

Well, it’s just an idea, a direction. And it’s not about erasing what was done like it never happened. That’s for the second coming. We know that’s not your role, now. This is just a second chance.

Might even turn your game around.

Best of luck. Whoever you are.


Should morality affect creative opinion?

April 16, 2010

By Mike Frey, Associate Creative Director @ NYCA

It’s a subjective business.

When the face of your brand falls from grace, what do you do? The public is outraged at Tiger for his indiscretions. So chances are, any Nike ad featuring Tiger would be damned by the public no matter how he was portrayed. I thought they showed guts by attacking the issue head on.

I thought to myself before the spot aired, what would his dad think about his infidelity? In fact, according to a show I saw recently, his dad also cheated on his wife. So he might not have even cared. Who is to say whether his dad would have disapproved of using his voice for this commercial?

Much of the public has judged this spot as being manipulative.

This is how I judge a commercial.

Does it hit me and make me think?

Is it original?

Is it not pandering to make a sale?

Is it going to create buzz?

I thought it did all of that. I can’t remember the last time a commercial even touched me that much. I don’t think this spot was trying to sell anything. It said, “I f–ked up. I got caught. There is nothing I can say to change that. I just have to learn from it and move on.”

So the public doesn’t like it. And what does the public like? Girls Gone Wild videos. Porn. Millions of dollars are made each year off of this type of stuff. The public really liked “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin.” With Mr. Whipple. A classic indeed. But that isn’t what I appreciate or admire.

A tough assignment for Nike. Thought they handled it well. I still think it will get in the One Show. Gold is a tall order to call. But I stand by what I think is great.


Playing for Redemption

April 11, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The person. The player.

One has nothing to do with the other and yet, with the Tiger Woods situation, they have become forced bedmates.

No one knows if what happened off the course will affect Tiger’s play.

I can’t imagine his shot-making will affect Tiger’s relationship with his family.

But what about the rest of us?

Are we more likely to accept, excuse, Tiger’s transgressions if he wins?

When he struggles on the course, will we think, “Aha! That’s Tiger getting his comeuppance for what he did to his family.”

I think so, though I don’t think it’s right. What do golf fans have to forgive him for, except not playing, not entertaining them? After all, that’s the contract we have with him: He hits amazing shots, we stand mouths agape.

He is a father, husband, son to a very few so his athletic majesty will have little effect on them. The vow is not love, honor and birdie.

Tiger’s big sponsor, Nike’s Phil Knight says this whole matter is already forgotten and never was much anyway; in fact, he’s made a commercial to remind us of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr0JDJFEOqw Just to increase sales. Those brands that have left him will not come back to Tiger, though they will want to. He will attract other quality brands. They will be betting on his personal turn-around. They will get the chance to be magnanimous, capitalize on forgiveness, knowing he is as attention-getting as an athlete has ever been. The first new brand on board will get unearthly press. No doubt, there’s already a line of companies ready to align themselves with him. And it’s as long, perhaps, as the fans ready to cheer for the world’s best’s best golf shots.

The kind that win trophies, build brands, make fans, land in the hole but fall short of redemption.


False idol.

April 7, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Shot like he’s Jesus.

Emotionally stripped, revealing nothing.

Accusatory visage, deflecting introspection.

Words from the father from another world.

Just false.


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.