Published November 20, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods is being featured in a new television commercial, and this one isn't likely to create the uproar his last one did.
A new EA Sports spot with Woods takes a much lighter approach than the Nike ad that aired during his return to the Masters, his first competition after he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant in November and his personal life started to publicly unravel.
The latest commercial was posted on the Internet by EA Sports on Thursday, the beginning of a major ad campaign for its Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 video game. The commercial is scheduled to air in prime-time Sunday during Game 2 of the NBA finals on ABC.
The ad is filled with humorous references to football and other team sports, an attempt to market the game's new Ryder Cup team mode. The commercial features Woods and other professional golfers, including Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter and Edoardo Molinari.
There also is a pep talk by former NFL coach Mike Ditka before Woods sinks a putt, followed by a flyover by jets and an ovation by cheerleaders.
Woods shares the cover of the game with Rory McIlroy of Ireland.
"There certainly is safety in numbers," said David Carter, professor of sports business at the University of Southern California. "Many brilliant ads have successfully used humor to reach people, and there's an element of safety to incorporate other people so all the focus isn't on Tiger."
Woods is playing at the Memorial this week in Dublin, Ohio.
This is the first ad with Woods since Nike's much-talked-about commercial in April.
The serious nature of the black-and-white Nike commercial featured the voice of his late father talking to Woods, who didn't speak and stared stoically into the camera. The ad shocked some for its use of a dead man's voice, and it was lampooned countless times on late-night shows and the web.
EA Sports, with a much younger audience, clearly wanted to take a different approach.
"I think you see the world's No. 1 golfer interacting with a lot of humor with other professional golfers and a cast of others," said Craig Evans, director of marketing for EA Sports. "We're out there just trying to change the perception that golf is only an individual sport. But he's absolutely still heavily involved. Our relationship with him is rooted in golf."
This is the latest attempt for Woods to regain his footing in the corporate world.
Several of his sponsors, including accounting firm Accenture and telecommunications company AT&T, dropped Woods after his accident set off revelations of infidelity. Those like Nike and EA Sports, which are closely tied to sports, stayed with him.
"Their brands were built by Tiger, so with his role in the game of golf, they're closely linked to that," said Darin David, account director for The Marketing Arm agency. "At some point they're going to have to move on from what happened, and I think a little bit of humor shows that."
Now the challenge is to reconnect with consumers.
Woods has struggled on the golf course since his fourth-place finish at the Masters, and how well he is received in the coming months is something companies will monitor.
"What's really going to matter when it comes to sales is if Tiger is winning, because one thing we know about sports fans is that they like winners," Carter said.
The game will be released Tuesday.
On the Net: http://www.youtube.com/easports