The fact that General Motors’ and Tiger Woods’ paths are diverging brings down the curtain on some quirky ads that aimed to draw younger buyers to Buick.
GM and Woods announced the end of their 10-year deal, effective Dec. 31, a year early Monday. The beleaguered auto maker cited budget problems, while Woods expressed a desire for more personal time for his family. He and his wife, Elin, are expecting their second child this winter. Their first, daughter Sam, was born on June 18, 2007.
Buick isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile, a storied line of vehicles GM discontinued in 2004 in part because they didn’t keep up with the times. But it isn’t your son’s Corvette, either, and GM focused most of its endorsement pact with Woods on the hope that his youthful image and athletic prowess could help Buick shed its own stodgy image.
The Buick commercials didn’t push the envelope as far as one of Woods’s Nike ads, in which he walks on water to hit a so-called “Jesus shot” from a lily pad and nestle the ball within a few feet of the cup.
But one Buick ad in particular remains memorable because it thrust the world’s No. 1 golfer into roles in two sports. He morphed from the practice tee into a blitzing linebacker to tackle a guy trying to abscond with his golf bag, emblazoned with the Buick logo.
Tiger’s tackling was so efficient that he bruised the face of his prey, actor Al Nowicki, although not his ego.
Asked about the collision later, Nowicki said the tackle "was Tiger's idea, and I was fine with it. I haven't played football since high school, but it was a good hit."
“It was a lot of fun,” Nowicki said during a Sports Illustrated interview published in January 2007.
It didn’t seem like fun at the time, if you judge by clips of the commercial shoot. Woods and crew members also express surprise and then concern about Nowicki, who got some TLC after the collision. Of course, the final commercial showed no evidence of the collision, and showed, rather, Nowicki stubbornly clinging to his prize as Tiger tries to wrest it from him.
As for GM, the automaker and Woods had opened discussions about ending their contract early even before the Big Three automakers recently sought multibillion-dollar bailouts recently.
And as for Tiger, the automaker might want to remain on good terms with him, even though he soon won’t have to carry the bag for Buick anymore and will be free to grab life in a Dodge or see whether Ford has a better idea.
After all, golf industry observers estimate that Woods’s monetary worth could reach $1 billion in 2010, and maybe he could float GM a loan.
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