Villing & Company

Just Do It (Even If It Doesn't Feel Right): Nike & Domino's

I saw the new Tiger Woods Nike spot last night on the news. From a marketing standpoint, I’m not totally sure how I feel about it. It could be a stroke of genius. It is certainly gutsy – even by Nike standards. And the scripting is brilliant in its novelty, simplicity and power.

From a personal perspective, however, I know precisely how I feel. Very uncomfortable. Given what has transpired since last Thanksgiving and the way Team Tiger has handled his media encounters, this spot just doesn’t feel right. In fairness, the commercial is for Nike and not for Tiger Woods per se. But Tiger is as much a part of the Nike brand as his own. Using one’s deceased father in this way is, at best, creepy and, at worst, exploitive and disingenuous.

The spot has already created a lot of buzz and free media exposure. So from Nike’s perspective, it probably was a stroke of genius. From Tiger’s, I’m not so sure.

Interestingly enough, I attended a marketing symposium at the University of Notre Dame last week and one of the featured presenters was Brandon Solano, VP of Brand Innovation for Domino’s Pizza. He is also featured in the new Domino’s commercials as the Head Chef. His presentation dealt with Domino’s gutsy and controversial campaign in which the company admitted how badly its products were perceived by the public. He showed several of the TV commercials and other components of the campaign. He also showed their more recent TV commercial in which the company took direct shots at one of their primary competitors, Papa John’s.

During the Q&A, I told Solano that when the initial campaign aired, I was impressed by its unprecedented candor and humility, but then when I saw the aggressive Papa John’s spot it just didn’t feel right. The tone was out of character with the humility they had established just a short time before.

Solano admitted that the Papa John’s commercial hadn’t tested very well, but they decided to move ahead with airing it despite the research. While he wasn’t more specific about the test results, I suspect the reason was this lack of consistency. After the presentation, more than a few people came up to me and said they had wanted to ask the very same question. The quick change in tone obviously didn’t sit right with them either.

The situations and marketing strategies behind these two examples are very different. Still there seems to be a common thread. Both can be summed up in the classic Nike tagline, “Just Do It.” It’s a worthy call to action when it comes to one’s personal needs for recreation and fitness. But when it comes to presenting a credible marketing message, sometimes “just doing it just doesn’t feel right”.

Filed Under: advertising

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