Just in time for this week’s start of the 2013 U.S. Open—and just a few months after it’s not-so-subtle wink n’ nudge to Tiger Woods’ nuclear clusterf&$# of bad PR—Nike is back with a new TV ad starring Woods that makes the case for golf as a real sport. By dropping visuals associated with sports like baseball, boxing and college hoops onto the golf course, the Swoosh is essentially saying, “See? We’re not all fat guys in loud pants. We’re athletes.”
At first glance, the spot comes across as yet another nugget of ad magic by the wizards at Wieden +Kennedy. But with golf joining the 2016 Olympics in Rio and fit, athletic stars like Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott atop the PGA world rankings, is convincing people golf is a real sport really necessary? Is it even an argument people are still having? Sure, everyday duffers smoke cigars and drink beer mid-game but anyone who’s ever been in the parking lot after any adult recreation softball or hockey game can see that same type of approach to athletic excellence.
If anything the ad may actually backfire. By juxtaposing the relatively quiet and slow-moving mood of golf with the comparably raucous environs of other sports, it potentially makes the case against itself. Worse, it does so by bringing up the subject in the first place. It’d be like a CEO walking into a board meeting and immediately announcing, “I just want to say that I haven’t been stealing any money from the company, nor am I a frequent user of Furry dating sites.” Then everyone in the room is asking themselves whether he’s telling the truth or not when there was never any suspicion to begin with.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to do some extensive stretching before I go play the very real sport of darts.