Archive for the ‘golf’ category

Golf Channel Knocks It 320 Yards Down the Middle

December 16th, 2011

I love golf.  I love golfers.  I love Golf Channel.  And that’s probably why I love Golf Channel’s new commercial so much.

I love golf in large part because it’s so damned difficult.  It frustrates me like nothing else I’ve ever attempted, as my on-the-course language all-too-often sadly attests.  Yet when I manage to hit the occasional great shot, it literally gives me an incredible thrill.   And I mean it when I say “literally”; even though I’m a decent golfer, I’m so aware of the thousands of things that can go wrong with a golf swing that I have a hard time believing it when I’m actually able to execute a great shot.  It might only happen a few times per round, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

I love golfers in general because I respect anyone who is willing to tackle and embrace a stiff challenge.  I particularly love pro golfers because I think they exude much more character  and integrity than any other class of professional athlete.  PGA and LPGA golfers aren’t guaranteed a paycheck; they don’t sign contracts ensuring them millions of dollars for hitting .159 (I’m talkin’ to you, Adam Dunn), repeatedly dropping touchdown passes (hello, Roy Williams) or disappearing in the league championship series (how you doin’, Lebron?).  And even though they’re playing for a paycheck, they’ll call penalties on themselves that can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars (such as Webb Simpson did this year, ultimately causing him to miss out on what would have been his first career victory).

When you see pro golfers interviewed, they are invariably modest about themselves and highly complimentary of their opponents.  And when they celebrate a sunk putt–if they celebrate at all–it’s usually a simple fist pump.  Contrast that with the NFL players who, after sacking a quarterback or catching a touchdown pass, engage in an elaborate series of obnoxious gestures that simultaneously celebrate their personal greatness and insult their momentarily vanquished opponent.

I love Golf Channel because it so consistently and poignantly captures all facets of the drama of this uniquely challenging and rewarding sport.  I love their reporters and announcers–such as ex-PGA players like David Feherty, Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo and Charlie Rymer and golden-throated Scottish announcers Renton Laidlaw and Dougie Donnelly–all of whom clearly revere the game and come across as be the kind of people you’d love to play a round with and then have a beer with.

Finally, I love this  new commercial because I think it captures everything I’ve just described–and more–so beautifully.   I even love the background song “Nothing for Granted” (by Brendan James), which provides not only a great melody but a wonderful sense of emotion.

Mark Twain famously described golf as “a good walk spoiled.”  I can only assume that Mr. Twain’s cable operator didn’t offer Golf Channel.

Kia and Michelle Wie Both Have Soul

December 13th, 2011

One of the keys to success in professional golf is having a caddy you can trust to recommend the right club.  I think Kia‘s ad agency could not have recommended a better celebrity than 22-year-old golfer Michelle Wie for this TV commercial for its new Soul sub-contact car.

This ad does a wonderful job of targeting the Soul at young people contemplating their first new car purchase.  If you want a car that would never be driven by your parents–not to mention the stuffy country club set–this is it.  And a big part of the credit for that perception goes to the infectious song (“Pro Nails” by Kid Sister) that plays throughout the spot.

On a more subtle note, one other thing that makes this commercial work so well is the fact that both Kia and Michelle Wie are of Korean descent.  (She was born in Hawaii to South Korean immigrants.)  Kia, like its sister Korean company Hyundai, has made great strides in building its brand equity over the past few years through high quality ratings and appealing product design. Aligning the Soul brand with a popular, attractive young Korean-American will surely make “Korean”–and Kia–even cooler.

But then again, what would you expect from a company based in Seoul?

Nike Should Just Stop It

April 8th, 2010

For decades Nike has been one of the most creative and effective advertisers on the planet, but I think they hooked one out of bounds with their latest  Tiger Woods commercial.   It shows Mr. Woods blankly staring at the camera while he ostensibly listens to his late father.

Earl Woods’ words, obviously recorded in a different context but made to seem as if they’re about his son’s well-publicized extra-marital affairs, are:  “Tiger…I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion.  I want to find out what your thinking was…I want to find out what your feelings are…and did you learn anything.”

I think that this is a mistake for both Nike and its most famous spokesman for three reasons.  First, given that Mr. Woods has repeatedly insisted that his marital infidelities are a private matter, this very public commercial is extremely hypocritical.  Second, Earl Woods’ words suggest that  people shouldn’t be so fast to pass judgment on his son until they’ve heard his side of the story–as if anything Tiger could say could possibly justify his alleged affairs with 17 women. Third, when Nike and Tiger should be doing everything possible to make this four-month episode fade away from the public consciousness, this commercial has only served to attract extra attention and controversy.

Nike is one of the few sponsors that didn’t abandon Mr. Woods following the revelations about his many infidelities; given their tremendous investment in him, I think that was the right decision.  But I believe that will continue to be the right decision only if it becomes increasingly clear that Mr. Woods is sincerely remorseful for his indiscretions and determined to get his life back on a healthy moral track.  Unfortunately, this commercial makes me question the sincerity of his remorse, and the quality of Nike’s judgment.

Having said that, I gave this commercial a rating of  “2nd floor”, rather than “basement”, because I have to give Nike some credit for having the courage to run this provocative commercial.  In the 1980s people thought Nike was crazy to run commercials without making any reference to the Nike brand (other than its now-famous “swoosh”), and it turned out Nike knew exactly what it was doing.  Maybe time will show that this latest commercial was an equally brilliant stroke.

But I’m betting that the advertising history books will show that, at least in this case, Nike should have taken a mulligan.