Putting aside the questions of whether Tiger Woods needed to or should have made a public apology, the timing of it, and even the content of it, now that Brand Tiger made the decision to do so and did so last Friday, I’m interested more with how Tiger conveyed it and the likely impact it will have on his personal brand going forward.
What struck me most about Tiger’s 14 minute public apology (actually Tiger worked in more than an apology during this time) was the fact that he read it, word for word, rather stiffly, from a prepared script, and from behind a podium. Doing so begged for me the question of who wrote it, in the same way we might ask who a famous politician’s speech writer is. Reading from a script or teleprompter behind the security of a podium works well for politicians, I’m not sure it is the best way to convey a heart-felt apology, ok, I am sure, it’s not.
After seeing the entire 14 minutes, I had to check with the U.S. Trademark Office to determine whether Brand Tiger had any registered protection for trademarks in Int’l Class 35 for the "production of public service announcements." But, I couldn’t find any . . . .
So, why the script, why the podium, why the presidential-blue backdrop? No doubt, this was a carefully controlled message with nothing left to chance, and no chance for surprise. So, that probably answers that. However, it seems to me the tightly controlled format squandered an opportunity to create a more meaningful connection, or perhaps reconnection, with Brand Tiger.
This morning I saw an interview on ESPN with one of the golfers on tour who thought it would have gone better if Tiger had not read a script, but instead spoken from the heart, perhaps guided by a few bullet points in some notes. I tend to agree and believe doing so would have conveyed far more emotion, truth, and authenticity. So, who recommended or chose this format for Brand Tiger?
I’m thinking it was a left brainer, not a right brainer, because striving for a more natural, emotional, and authentic expression from Tiger seems like a no-brainer to me, at least, if the goal is to resurrect, or at least begin the resurrection of Brand Tiger. Or, perhaps a right brain advisor recognized that the target audience for Brand Tiger’s apology skewed toward left brainers who would feel themselves more comfortable with this controlled format too? By the way, if you’re not sure which of your hemispheres is dominant, here is an interesting and brief online 18 question test.
Left brain dominant Accenture was the only sponsor mentioned by name, do you suppose they had any say in the chosen format?
For further guidance on my hemispheric brain hypothesis, I consulted Al & Laura Ries‘ most recent and highly acclaimed book War in the Boardroom, which explains the conflict and divide between management and marketing types by their respective emphasis on left and right brain thinking:
If you’re the CEO of a major corporation, chances are good you are a left brainer. Before you make a decision, you want to be supported by facts, figures, market data, consumer research. It couldn’t be otherwise in a world where the ultimate measurement is the bottom line and the stock price.
If you have a job in marketing, chances are good you are a right brainer. You often make decisions by "gut instinct" with little or no supporting evidence. It couldn’t be otherwise in a creative discipline like marketing.
Another striking difference: left brainers have a strong preference for verbal thinking, while right brainers favor visual thinking.
When a management type makes a speech, he or she usually stands behind a podium and reads a script or the words on a teleprompter.
When a marketing type makes a speech, he or she usually stands in front of a screen using dozens of visuals.
Again, all signs seem to point to the left side of the brain on the format. Now, I’m not suggesting that Brand Tiger would have benefited from a Ross Perot style speech complete with charts and graphs, but I do think that Tiger would have chipped his personal brand out of the rough far more effectively without a podium, without reading a speech, and he wouldn’t have needed 14 minutes to do it. No doubt, this was only the first public step toward resurrection of Brand Tiger.