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Marketing Execs: Tiger Controversy Won't Harm Nike

The brand’s social-media ad campaign caused a firestorm.

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Nike Golfs Tiger Woods ad

Nike sure knows how to stir up buzz.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based firm sparked controversy earlier this week after posting a Tiger Woods ad on Nike Golf’s Twitter and Facebook handles that read “Winning Takes Care of Everything.”

The ad, which is meant to celebrate the athlete regaining his No. 1 golf ranking this week and which has been shared more than 2,700 times on Facebook, has gotten mixed reactions from consumers. (Woods was involved in a highly publicized case of marital infidelity in 2009.)

But marketing experts said that regardless of the controversy, the extra attention only benefits Nike.

“[The ad is] a little brash, but it’s a very Nike-ish thing to do,” said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director for San Francisco-based firm Baker Street Advertising. “Tiger built their brand in golf, and they’re very happy to trumpet that he’s back.”

Dorfman added that he expects minimal fallout as a result of the ad, even though it may be deemed offensive to some women.

“I’m sure there are a number of women who are upset by it, but it’s not really the women buying Nike golf equipment,” Dorfman said. “It may have been a little different if they were selling fast food or cars, or something unrelated to what Tiger does on the golf course.”

Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com and founder of Fifteen Minutes agency, doesn’t see any negative impacts on the sports brand, either.

“There’s a certain amount of truth to [the message],” he said. “Tiger wasn’t winning tournaments, which is all that anyone really cared about. It’s not like he’s Lance Armstrong and cheated the sport.”

Bragman added that he foresees Woods slowly regaining the endorsement opportunities he had before his scandal. 

And Nike certainly has boosted its visibility with him. Prior to Monday’s controversial post, Woods was featured in a TV spot with fellow Nike golfer Rory McIlroy and in a Nike skateboarding video with pro Eric Koston.

On Thursday, the athletic brand will release Wood’s signature golf shoe through a limited, online-only release.

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