Friday Opinion: Nike Butchers Tiger Woods 16th Hole Moment

Money Shot, Butchered

May 8, 2005: When Tiger Woods made that famous 16th hole shot, leaving the Nike golf ball hanging on the edge of the cup, swoosh visible for two long seconds before dropping in, the ad industry speculated wildly over over how Nike would turn this moment into a commercial. Well, three weeks passed, nothing was released and the industry gave up hope. In the meantime - actually, the day the shot occurred, Joe Jaffe, pointed out this perfect opportunity for Nike and created a spec spot on his own. Simply and without un-necessary editorializing, Jaffe's version illustrated the miraculous moment and ended quietly with "Just do it." It took a fantastic sporting moment, which needed no additional explanation, and commercialized it beautifully.

While all had given up hope Nike would take advantage of this moment, a Nike-created spot finally emerged a week or so ago. It was about as timely as that Bud Light Super Bowl spot making fun the previous year's Janet Jackson nipple slip. Did it really have to take that long for client and agency to get their shit together? The spot, using the same imagery from the famous day and interspersed with black screen/white type banal messaging, closes with a lame, inside joke about how Woods should have, at least, landed the ball in a way that made the Nike logo more visible.

The spot, compared to Jaffe's simple, but dead on concept, is one of the worst spots ever crafted, ruining what could have been an elegant and very strong message. It's depressingly typical agency work - a sad attempt at creativity when, plainly, the only creativity required was to acknowledge the magnitude of the moment. If ever there were a sporting moment involving a marketer that didn't need explanation, this, most certainly, is it. Instead, the spot force feeds its message, ramming a lame joke down people's throats as if they were idiots. Apparently, Nike and the agency felt the public would be too stupid to grasp the relationship between the moment and Nike's part in the moment. Nike and the agency should be ashamed of the work.

Joe is running a poll on his site to see what the industry thinks about this.

by Steve Hall    Oct-10-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Brands, Commercials, Opinion   

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This is craziness! What an amazing moment in sports history and such a wonderful opportunity for Nike to make a statement... lost forever. damn. I thought your point about the add agency trying to do too much was spot on. Sometimes simplicity and not doing too much is the hardest decision to make. It feels risky, but it's usually best in the end.

Posted by: Brett Tilford on October 10, 2008 2:00 PM

Hi Steve,

are you sure that Nike Spot just came out recently? I am pretty sure I have seen that years ago!
In fact if I remember correctly, Joe Jaffe posted his version the day of the lucky shot (or the day after) and Nike and their agency released their ad 3 weeks later. And everybody was surprised why it took them 3 weeks to do almost exactly what Joe did in a few hours.

You're right, however, about the fact that the agency ruined the dramatic incident by adding those text charts!

Posted by: roland hachmann on October 10, 2008 4:02 PM

R0land. Look at the date at the beginning of the article. It's a reprint. yes, it's old.

Posted by: Steve Hall on October 10, 2008 4:10 PM

oh, sorry, I didn't see that. Probably because I didn't expect "reprints" in a blog, it's somehow contradictory in terms...

Posted by: roland hachmann on October 10, 2008 4:25 PM

It is contradictory. Totally contradictory:-) But we were unable to publish properly today.

Posted by: Steve Hall on October 10, 2008 5:16 PM

The shot itself is enough. After he made the shot, everyone said that it was already the perfect Nike commercial.

Why the tag line, Joe, if that's the sentiment that viewers already felt? To shove an idea down people's throats.

Posted by: Edward on October 10, 2008 9:20 PM