” ‘Winning takes care of everything.’ Tiger Woods, #1.”
Monday this week, Nike Golf took to Twitter with that provocative caption gracing Tiger Woods’ trademark pensive squat image, bordered in the lower right corner with the word “Victory” in bold red letters next to the Nike Swoosh.
Imagine the equation of that quote + the still latent scarlet letter Woods carries from his 3-4-year old scandal and divorce.
The end result? A branding backlash.
The good news is you can avoid this glaring debacle.
Even strong brands aren’t invincible.
Nike is no novice company. Its corporate sponsorships of the sports greats and rising stars solidify its respectability, and its customer base typically consists of deep-pocketed consumers. Its typical tough motivation brand message resonates well with athletes and non-athletes alike: “Just Do It.”
In this case, Nike Golf saw a marriage of convenience with the message of winning and its push to stay relevant. Sounds like a golden opportunity, right?
So what went wrong?
For starters, Woods’ quote in itself sounds shallow, which immediately sets it up for failure: “Winning takes care of everything.” David E. Bowman tweeted, “Would Nike put that slogan under Lance Armstrong’s picture? Mike Vick? Being a better human fixes everything, not winning.”
Secondly, Woods’ scandal, though now diluted, still follows him. People haven’t forgotten what happened, despite his resurgence. As such, the public’s perception of the quote is that it trivializes his divorce. @MrFoxNYC seamlessly tweeted in reply, “Except the marriage & family u destroyed”.
Further Facebook Fallout
The great thing about social media is its ability to broadcast your brand. The painful thing about social media is people’s ability to broadcast your brand’s failings, and Nike Golf is no safer than anyone else.
While Mashable’s article states the Facebook feedback was mostly positive, the negative feedback was searing.
Kenny Rogers commented, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul…. just thinking….”
“Way to go Nike, you egomaniac jerks,” Chris Reardon protested.
Your 3 Takeaways
1. Hit the brakes first. Relevance is important, but weigh your approach options carefully (make sure you give yourself options, more importantly).
2. Controversy’s good, but risky. While some say “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, we can all agree that publicity of the negative variety tends to be stickier, as this ad campaign clearly demonstrates — Woods’ victory is his first in 3 years, but it’s overshadowed by his scandal.
While Nike Golf’s mistake got newsies, blogs, and consumers talking (2,028 Facebook shares and 286 comments), which increases the brand’s public awareness, the public will hold a grudge as a result of this slip.
3. If you’re using a quote, make sure it’s impactful and appealing. Woods normally chooses his words carefully, but Nike Golf chose a quote that falls flat.
Never let your brand ambitions eclipse the human element.
In its push for punchy relevance, Nike Golf inadvertently alienated its own fan base as well as everybody else, which opened it up to the worst case scenario: complete customer aversion. Facebook commenter Tery Robertson declared, “:Dear Nike — for my next pair of shoes…ANYTHING but Nikes.”
That’s the last thing you want anyone to say about your brand, product, or service. Always think about your customers or audience first before you move ahead with a marketing campaign.
What other branding fails have you seen so far this year? Let us know in a comment below.
Image courtesy of Nike, Facebook.