Nike

Andrew Hill

Million-dollar endorsement: Honus Wagner teaches lessons to modern celebrities (Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art via Bloomberg)

In the strange world of celebrity endorsements, it is usually the brand that dumps the celebrity – as happened, say, when Nike dropped cycling cheat Lance Armstrong in 2012 – rather than vice versa. So it stood out last week when Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan revealed he stopped endorsing Pepsi some years ago, after a young girl asked him why he was advertising a drink her teacher said was “poisonous”.

“The Big B’s” declaration, during a talk with Indian business school students, coincided with a controversy that took the more predictable route. Actress Scarlett Johansson maintained her endorsement of SodaStream, the Israeli fizzy drinks company, and severed ties with Oxfam, the charity for which she had been a long-standing (and, people in the NGO world tell me, interested and involved) goodwill ambassador.

But his wider comments shed light on the other side of such endorsements and how celebrities can limit the risk of cross-contamination. Read more

John Gapper

Opinions vary on whether the new Nike advertisement featuring Tiger Woods is tasteless exploitation of his dead father, Earl Woods, or a masterstroke of counter-intuitive marketing.

Personally, I think the television ad, made by Nike’s long-time agency Wieden + Kennedy, it is a clever piece of emotional brand rebuilding.

The ad, which you can view above, has been produced to coincide with the Masters golf tournament and Woods’ carefully orchestrated return to professional golf following his public humiliation as a result of having affairs with women.

It should thus be taken alongside Woods’ penitent press conference earlier this week in which he said he had been in therapy and was trying to become a better person, and the highly critical comments of Billy Payne, chairman of the Augusta National club where the Masters is played. Read more