Nike posted an ad starring Tiger Woods on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday, drawing backlash from fans on social media because of a perceived link to the pro golfer's infidelity and divorce.
The ad includes a photo of Woods with the quote, “Winning takes care of everything,” a phrase he's used since 2009. Although the golfer has been known for this quote, some fans found the ad inappropriate because Woods was accused of cheating on his wife numerous times that year, leading to his 2010 divorce.
Although the photo was shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook and received more than 8,000 “likes,” some of the comments on the post focused on Woods' marital problems or Nike's decision to run the controversial ad.
Woods regained the No. 1 ranking in the world this week after a long – by his standards – absence.
Nike spokesperson Beth Gast told the media that the ad only refers to Woods' golfing abilities.
"When asked about his goals such as getting back to No. 1, he has said consistently winning is the way to get there," she told the Associated Press, via email. "The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance."
The social media uproar follows a tumultuous several months for Nike in terms of athletic sponsorships. Nike ended its relationship with Lance Armstrong in October, just before he admitted cheating during cycling races. Last month, the company severed ties with Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius for allegedly murdering his girlfriend. Nearly three years ago, the company re-signed football star Michael Vick after he was released from jail.
Nike issues statements to the press when problems arise with its athletes, but it should sign stronger role models to its roster. The company should make sure it's giving the right message to aspiring middle-school and high-school sports stars who wear Nike gear and look up to Nike athletes.