Nike’s Risky PR Move?

 Nikes Risky PR Move?

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Nike.

Everyone loves a winner – especially Nike. The company has just launched a PR campaign via social media after Tiger Woods recently won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The campaign includes a photo of Woods with his quote, “Winning takes care of everything.” Cheeky! Especially since it was Woods’ original retort when asked by the press about his extramarital affairs with prostitutes.

That rather public scandal, which came after the death of his beloved father and which resulted in divorce from his wife, led to Woods’ downfall. Previously a golfer who couldn’t be beaten, he had a fall from both grace and rankings. His sponsors, all but Nike, left him.

The world-famous sportswear brand has had a tough time with its athlete representatives. When Lance Armstrong admitted that he’d cheated to win all his Tours de France, Nike raced to drop him as it did with Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius who shot and killed his girlfriend. But in the case of Tiger Woods, Nike’s market research must have shown Woods was still resonating and worth spending the $20 million a year. The reaction so far? Media and online responses seems to be suggesting that Nike is more in love with its representative than the general public, particularly the female half.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Nike. Is this latest controversy on-brand?

THE PR TAKEAWAY:  Consider language in its broadest context. Yes, everyone loves a winner, and while it’s well known that winning does, in fact, take care of everything, some female customers buying Nike products may not be on the same page. Perhaps, in consideration of Woods’ transgressions, it might have been better if Nike had simply congratulated Woods using the single word by their swoosh – VICTORY – and allowed the public to be happy about a sports legend’s return. Instead, Nike may have inadvertently sent a message to female customers who don’t see it Tiger’s way. The right wording, more than winning, really does take care of everything.

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What is Your PR Verdict?

  1. Les Goldberg says:

    Americans are a forgiving people. Corporations seem to be more forgiving when there is potential for sales dollars. Let’s see how long it takes Nike to pull Mr. Armstrong back under its “heels”.

  2. Maybe if Lance Armstrong wins again, we can test that theory with Nike.

  3. Davina K. Brewer says:

    We like to see people make good on their mistakes – by changing, by improving and well, making good. Winning isn’t really everything and it doesn’t wash away all sins. Like with many other fallen sports icons making the pity rounds, it’s forced attrition not genuine remorse. And then they win and all is forgotten, including their ‘new’ look on life. I don’t agree w/ every word, but as usual ESPN’s Rick Reilly kinda nailed it here. It is fairly on brand with Nike, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. FWIW.
    Davina K. Brewer recently posted..I Keep My Own AgencyMy Profile

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