Before You Play in the Tournament, You Might Want to Hit the Driving Range

If you’re going to be successful at something, it’s going to take practice. A professional golfer like Tiger Woods knows that better than anyone.  Tiger has spent countless hours of practice and preparation, and because of that investment he knows exactly how to swing each club in his bag.

While Tiger may have a fundamental appreciation for the value of practice, it seems like last week his sponsor, Nike, decided to skip the driving range.

The latest Nike Golf ad – the first since the Tiger scandal surfaced– is a black and white spot showing Tiger dressed in a Nike vest and hat, staring into the camera while a voice over of his father, Earl Woods, plays saying to Tiger: “I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. Did you learn anything?”

It appears that Nike is using this ad to try to repair Tiger’s image, as well as get Tiger back into the advertising realm that he has been absent from for the past few months. The ad does not focus on any Nike products (other than the hat and vest Tiger is wearing) but instead focuses on Tiger himself, and his personal life which has been very public.

While the ad may have been well intended, it seems Nike forgot to ask a critical question:  What about the customers? How are they going to react to this ad? What will they think of Nike? Tiger Woods is Nike Golf, so testing the ad and understanding customers’ reactions should have been a key step prior to launching the ad. Now, some interesting research suggests Nike didn’t quite have their finger on the pulse of their customers.

According to a national study conducted by HCD Research, favorability of the Nike brand declined after seeing the ad. The number of viewers that rated Nike as “favorable” or “extremely favorable” decreased from 92% prior to viewing the ad to 79% after viewing it. Favorability for Tiger Woods also decreased after seeing the ad from an average of 3.7 to an average of 3.5 (based on a 1-7 scale, 7 being the most favorable). Additionally, 29% of viewers reported that they were less likely to purchase products endorsed by Tiger Woods after viewing the ad. The results of the study can be seen here.

The study shows the importance of testing an ad prior to launch. This information could have easily been gathered by conducting focus groups or survey research before releasing the ad to the entire nation. Maybe Nike wasn’t worried about their viewers’ reactions, or maybe they actually did the research and decided to run the ad anyway. Either way, the lesson is clear:A little research can turn bogeys to birdies and keep you out of the sand trap.

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About Author: Dave O’Neill is a senior at St. John Fisher College and a Research Intern at Dixon Schwabl. “I love hockey, lacrosse (it’s my senior season at SJFC), hunting and fishing. I can’t imagine there is a better place to work than Dixon Schwabl and I absolutely love being a part of such a great company.”