Nike just released its first post-scandal Tiger Woods ad, featuring a simple black-and-white shot of a forlorn-looking Woods in Nike garb, staring into the camera as the voice of his late father Earl Woods plays overhead. “Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive,” says the elder Woods in the 30-second spot, which played tonight on ESPN and the Golf Channel. “To promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?” The camera slowly zooms in on Tiger’s face, finally flash-cutting in silence to a white Nike logo against a black screen.

Check out the ad after the jump, and then let’s discuss it, shall we?

It’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. It’s also intriguing as an act of brand management — Nike’s and Tiger’s. When asked about the ad, Nike’s only response was the following statement: “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.”

What’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 golfer’s most steadfast supporters in the wake of the image-shattering revelations of Woods’ habitual infidelity, and now the company gets to justify its loyalty by also serving as Tiger’s surrogate scold. And just in time for his return to golf at one of the sport’s biggest tournaments, too.

What do you make of the ad, Popwatchers? Is it the right first step? Does using Earl Woods’ words from beyond the grave work for you, or is it just simply too eerie? And do you think it’s smart for Nike to be front-and-center on Woods’ national campaign to make amends?

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