Disgraced golf superstar Tiger Woods on Wednesday appeared in his first new television ad since embarrassing revelations about extramarital affairs emerged.
However, the ad is receiving some very mixed reactions, and may end up making things worse.
An advertisement for Nike -- airing on the eve of Woods' much-anticipated return to competitive golf after a five-month layoff -- features a voice recording of the golfer's late father appearing to talk about the golfer's personal woes.
"I want to find out what your thinking was; I want to find out what your feelings are. Did you learn anything?" said Earl Woods as a somber-looking Tiger looked directly into the camera.
The New York Post observed, "In what has to be one of the oddest ads in the history of television, Nike last night debuted a creepy, 30-second Tiger Woods commercial that features the fallen sports star solemnly staring at the camera while listening to a grim voiceover of his dead dad."
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not clear yet where the audio of Earl Woods, who passed away in 2006, originally came from, but using it to essentially rebuke Tiger for his behavior is definitely all kinds of striking. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also intriguing as an act of brand management Ã¢â‚¬â€ NikeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and TigerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. But whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most interesting to me about the ad is how it plays as an act of both personal and corporate penance. Nike has been one of the superstar golferÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most steadfast supporters in the wake of the image-shattering revelations of WoodsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ habitual infidelity, and now the company gets to justify its loyalty by also serving as TigerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s surrogate scold. And just in time for his return to golf at one of the sportÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest tournaments, too.
One could interpret the voice of Earl to be the voice of Nike itself, offering fatherly forgiveness to a spokesperson they did not drop, even though many sponsors did, and asking him if he's ready to return to the game.
Or maybe its just Tiger selling out his dead father to rehabilitate his broken image.
ABC News adds, "The commercial has been has been hailed as a brilliant marketing strategy by some, while others say the ad is in poor taste."
Woods has acknowledged an adultery scandal that has seen more than a dozen women claim sexual relationships with the married father of two, destroying the squeaky-clean image that made Woods the world's first billion-dollar sportsman.
Sponsors had sought to distance themselves from the troubled star as sordid details of his personal life emerged.
But as Woods embarks on his comeback this week -- teeing off at Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters -- his star-appeal could be too much for firms to shun.
"We support Tiger and his family. As he returns to competitive golf, the ad addresses his time away from the game using the powerful words of his father," Nike said in a statement.
Nike reportedly paid Woods around 40 million dollars a year before the scandal.
The 30-second black and white spot aired on the Golf Channel and ESPN on Wednesday and was to run until shortly after the star tees-off on Thursday.
The most anticipated stroke in 150 years of golf history is scheduled off Augusta's first tee at 1:42 pm local time.
Tiger will face 95 rivals trying to deny the world's number one golfer a 15th major title.
(with AFP report)