The Tiger Woods/Nike Ad: Gross Manipulation with Forethought

The new Nike/Tiger Woods commercial is a compelling piece of art.  Nike’s ad agency created a spot you can’t turn away while eliciting a range of opinions about intent and effectiveness.  It’s brilliant.

Tiger’s “called-out-on-the-carpet” expression touches that part of anyone who has struggled with perpetrating a huge wrong.  It got to me.  I recall a subpar semester at college and dreading my mother’s reaction when she saw my grades.  Instead of yelling, she calmly stated “what you’ll get out of college is what you put into it.”  In those few words I was cut down yet made to never forget.

But in my opinion the ad did nothing to help Woods or Nike.  There is no ethical stance from the subject or the sponsor.  With the help of some very creative people, Nike and Woods worked together to create pure manipulation.

Let’s look at this as a process. People developed the concept, consulted on it and then sold it into Woods.  Then more people researched archived audio; shot the footage; edited it, and aired it.  All planned.  We’ll never know what went on behind the scenes with Nike and Woods on how they arrived at the agreement to maintain their relationship.  Maybe in an attempt to justify behavior, Nike knows that it and Tiger are tightly linked.  Over the years, think of all that video footage of Tiger where the Nike logo is present.

I recall a line from the early 80‘s movie, “The Big Chill”. When Jeff Goldblum’s character, Michael, explains why he squanders his brilliant writing ability by penning stories for People magazine, he says “Don’t knock rationalization. Where would we be without it? I don’t know anyone who’d get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations.”

I did see a brilliant ad, as well as faux contrition supported by crass commercialism. A pained-looking Tiger reacting to his dad’s words never would have seen the light of day if that conversation actually took place.

Microsoft’s Latest Blue Screen of Death

blue-screen-of-death

I was puzzled about Microsoft’s decision to exclusively sponsor the Fox program, “Family Guy”, to promote its new Windows 7 operation system.  So earlier this week I was downright amazed (and not in a good way) when Microsoft announced that it was bowing out of the arrangement:

“We initially chose to participate in the Seth and Alex variety show based on the audience composition and creative humor of ‘Family Guy,’ but after reviewing an early version of the variety show it became clear that the content was not a fit with the Windows brand,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail statement. “We continue to have a good partnership with Fox, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein and are working with them in other areas. We continue to believe in the value of brand integrations and partnerships between brands, media companies and talent.”

Here’s what didn’t “fit” with the Windows brand: riffs on deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest.

My question to the brand managers at Microsoft is this: Did you ever watch “Family Guy”?

So much for basic planning.

Your Family Guy of Family Guys

FamilyguyCouch_v2_05_72Microsoft is taking a page out of 50’s era TV variety show advertising.  Only this isn’t Sid Caeser and “Your Show of Shows”.  It’s Peter Griffin and “Family Guy”.

The maker of Windows signed a deal with Fox to sponsor a variety show produced by “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane and the voice of the family patriarch Peter Griffin.  Taking a cue from the single-sponsored shows of old, this planned mix of live action, music and animation will feature Windows-branded information throughout the program in lieu of commercials.

As Stewie Griffin would say, “What the deuce?”

With good reviews of Windows 7, particularly a near glowing assessment from the dean of technology writers, Walt Mossberg, why would Microsoft resort to promoting a product on a show with humor (read raunch) close to “South Park”?  Type in “Windows 7 Reviews” into your browser and you’ll get pages upon pages of what tech types already think of the new OS.

Microsoft’s creative team at Crispin, Porter & Bogusky will walk the tightrope of how much promotion will be too much without turning it into an infamous (and cringe worthy) “Windows 7 Launch Party” infomercial.  But if Microsoft decides to go heavy handed, the audience won’t be laughing with Microsoft, it will be laughing at them.

I’m unsure why Microsoft is concentrating so much time, energy and cash on the demographic that watches “Family Guy”.   This infortainommercial could turn out to be like Super Bowl beer commercials.  Singular, funny, creative, yet unable to sell product.