Monday, December 14, 2009

Update from the Tiger Woods Ad Agency Crisis Management Department

I did a post a while back (Why Wolfgang Puck Should be Stoned to Death and Dismembered) about how celebrities should go about choosing what products to endorse. Obviously, you couldn't write about celebrity endorsements with about discussing Tiger Woods - up until Thanksgiving, one of the most successful product pushing human beings on the planet. When the news broke that Tiger had been screwing a different cocktail waitress just about every time he walked into a hotel room, everyone got misty eyed thinking about how that must feel for his wife and little kids. Not me. I immediately thought, oh my god! what is this going to mean for Deloitte & Touche?!

First off, let me say generally that I have not been weeping over Tiger's corporate sponsors and their potential public relations nightmares. Companies are stupid to make such huge investments in supposedly super-human individuals who are supposed to convince the hoi polloi that they too can become virtual gods if they buy whatever junk the celebrity is hawking. Shame on the companies for getting bent out of shape when their enlisted demi-gods turn out to be just as schmuck-like as the rest of us. And shame, even more, on the rest of mankind for being so retardedly biologically predisposed to thinking that buying whatever junk is being pushed will make us even one iota less schmuck-like.

A lot of people seem to assume that Tiger's screw up is going to mean the end of all of his corporate endorsements. I don't think so. And I think the determining factor will be the underlying message of each particular ad. For ads that are trying to say "we the company are like Tiger," well that's really no good. But for the ads, which are most of them, that are trying to say "you will be like Tiger if you buy our crap," Tiger's banging his way around the globe may not be a bad thing at all.

Accenture has reportedly pulled the plug on Tiger already. They fall into the first category. I have no idea what Accenture actually does (I don't think anyone knows; they're some kind of consulting offshoot of Arthur Anderson), but, judging from their ads, they're apparently supposed to have the laser beam focus, commitment to achieve and clarity under pressure that Tiger has. So then when you re-evaluate Accenture in light of these new developments – start thinking that your Accenture consultant is probably going to spend a few minutes in your office walking you through some business models and then work all afternoon and all night to try to get into your secretary's pants – you might have a bit less confidence that Accenture's services are really what you need. Same analysis for Deloitte & Touche. I haven't heard anything yet about what they're planning to do with their Tiger campaign, but I can't believe they're going conclude that Tiger Woods continues to be the picture perfect poster child for scrupulous accounting practices (in which case, at the very least, walking through airports may become one small notch less irritating).

A few products have unique considerations. Gatorade has discontinued its Tiger Woods sport drink, but claims to have made that decision before the brouhaha. I believe them, mainly because I've tried the Tiger Woods sport drink and it was the nastiest shit I have ever had the displeasure of putting in my mouth. Buick can probably keep Tiger on. Most of its target audience probably still have rabbit ears on their TVs and haven't figured out how to make the transition to digital TV. So they probably haven't even heard the news about Tiger yet.

But almost all of the rest of the products endorsed by Tiger are in the second category – the "buy this and you'll be like Tiger" group. Take Hanes and Gillette, for example. The target demographic for these ads are 100% male. Guys who are (almost by definition) trying to look stronger and younger and sexier. So how will the fact that its spokesman has been busted screwing dozens of young, sexy women affect its message? Uh, you connect the dots. A few minor tweaks to the scripts (i.e. photoshop Tiger into Axe body spray ad and have him say something like "awwwww yeeeeaaah boy, you know what I'm talking about...") and these ads will be ready for prime time. Why did all those cocktail waitresses want to nail tiger in the first place? Why, because of his sexy boxer briefs and incredibly close shave, of course.

Don't hold your breath for the corporate press releases acknowledging all this. But somewhere deep in the bowels of the Tiger Woods wing of the advertising industry corridors of power, someone is making the not-so-ridiculous point that, if your main spokesman turns out to be an irresponsible, adolescent pig, and if your whole advertising regime is based on hawking stuff to people who, deep down, basically dream of acting like irresponsible, adolescent pigs, you might not have such a big crisis after all.


Patricia Harrison said...

Right on the money, Dan! Esp. that last paragraph. Actually Tiger could have saved a lot of aggravation by better choice of sponsors -- you're right that some wouldn't mind the association with wild womanizing...

Slippaaaa said...

Another great installment, of course. And so true.

Have you heard the brain teaser about the doctor who goes into the ER to do emergency surgery on an incoming patient? Upon seeing the patient, the doc says "I can't operate on this child... he's my son." But the doc is NOT the boy's father. So you're supposed to spend hours trying to figure out how this is possible, until you realize that your own sexist stereotypes are to blame, and of course, the doctor is simply the child's mother.

Why do I bring this up? The above struck me as particularly relevant in regards to your well-woven sentence clause, "...your Accenture consultant is probably going to spend a few minutes in your office walking you through some business models and then work all afternoon and all night to try to get into your secretary's pants".

Surely you see what I'm getting at. It's simply sexist to assume that the Accenture consultant is a chick looking to get into my male secretary's pants, only to find out he's flamingly gay, and then crying like the girl she is. But you did assume that, didn't you? Shame on you, Dan, that shit's just not right.