Are Buicks too tame for Tiger Woods?

January 22, 2007|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Columnist

In the long, dubious history of celebrities shilling for products, one of the strangest pairings has to be Tiger Woods and Buick.

Kirstie Alley shills for Jenny Craig and you think: OK, she let herself go a few years ago, gained all that weight, spoofed herself in that Fat Actress reality show, then turned to a well-known weight-loss program to slim down.

Makes sense.

Burt Reynolds appears in those "Man Laws" Miller Lite commercials and you think: Fine, aging macho actor with a bad hairpiece, had a big rep as a person who partied, still likes to kick back with a couple of cold ones.

Also makes sense.

But Tiger Woods pushing Buicks in those TV spots?

Does this ring true to anyone?

Does anyone really think Tiger Woods drives a Buick when no one's around to see him?

C'mon.

Let's go over a few facts about Tiger Woods, OK?

The guy is the most famous athlete on the planet right now.

He's worth hundreds of millions of dollars and can drive any car he wants.

He's 31 years old with a hot-looking wife who would make a Hindu holy man bite through his robe.

And he drives a Buick?

He drives the same car as your Uncle Jerry?

The ultimate old guy's car?

Please. Go sell that somewhere else.

Oh, he might drive one to the course at this week's Buick Invitational, the next stop on the PGA Tour, because Buick is paying him all that cash.

But once he's back behind the walls of his $40 million Jupiter Island, Fla., mansion with, I don't know, a Lamborghini and Maserati and Rolls-Royce in the driveway and a huge cabin-cruiser tied up at the dock, does Tiger really say to himself: Think I'll take the Buick Lucerne out for a spin?

Right.

But that's just one of the commercials that strains credulity in this era of celebrity pitchmen coming at you nonstop.

Teri Hatcher for Clairol Nice n' Easy?

Sure, I'll buy that one.

Drop-dead gorgeous actress pitching hair coloring?

That's not a stretch at all.

But Catherine Zeta-Jones for T-Mobile?

What's that all about?

The only thing I can figure is, in this country, we seem to assume that if someone is famous and pushing a product, that person has some kind of expert knowledge about the product.

Look, Catherine Zeta-Jones is a knock-out, no question about it.

And she's a pretty good actress. And maybe she's smart and funny, too, and she's trying to save orphans all over the world, prevent the slaughter of baby seals, etc.

But are you going to pick a cell phone company based on her recommendation?

Does anyone really think: "Verizon Wireless, Cingular, T-Mobile ... it's all so confusing. What would Catherine Zeta-Jones do?"

Speaking of confusing, there's the current king of all celebrity shills, Peyton Manning.

Is there anything the Indy Colts quarterback doesn't pitch these days?

Let's see, MasterCard, Gatorade, DirecTV, Sprint, Reebok ... where does he find time for his day job?

Sure, he's a great football player, nice guy, funny, self-deprecating, the whole nine yards.

And, yeah, those commercials for MasterCard, especially, are a hoot. (Best line: "They're not saying `boo,' they're saying `moo-vers.'"

But what does all this serial shilling do for his credibility?

You get the feeling the guy would endorse stomach flu if they paid him enough.

If the guy's pushing another product every time you turn on the TV, wouldn't you sort of tune him out after a while?

And if the richest athlete on the planet tells you he can't wait to get behind the wheel of a Buick, wouldn't you take that with a grain of salt, too?

Apparently not.

No wonder these celebrities think it's a great country.

Kevin.Cowherd@baltsun.com

To hear podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun. com/cowherd.

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