The story goes like this:
Nike signed Tiger Woods right after he turned pro in 1996 then set out to create an identity for him which they did and began to produce.
Tiger, whom Nike thought had approved the design, hated his new logo thus, becoming somewhat disenchanted with Nike because he wanted to be very hands-on when it came to the logo selection process.
Meanwhile, Tommy Hilfiger tried to woo Tiger away from Nike, since he wasn’t too happy, and in response Nike hired me — along with many others — to help develop Tiger’s new logo for a 1997 launch.
Nike had 33 internal designers, a big west coast firm, and an even bigger east coast firm along with little ol’ POLLARDdesign generating as many ideas as possible because this time Tiger was to participate in the selection process from beginning to end which meant he wanted to see every doodle, every thumbnail, and every bar napkin with any mark on it and because Nike was fearful of losing him to Tommy Hilfiger, they agreed to let Tiger see everything as opposed to weeding out and presenting only a few select concepts for him to choose from.
It apparently took weeks for Tiger to sift through literally thousands of images and when the dust finally settled, he picked a logo: the old mark you used to see very early on in his career… which was actually his second logo since the public never saw the first logo… the one he hated so much and started the panic at Nike.
My TW banner logo — the one you see today — was Tiger’s fourth favorite (but Nike’s favorite) so my coming in “fourth place” was, I thought, pretty damn huge for POLLARDdesign considering how many concepts were created.
Nike thanked me, paid me, and told me my TW banner was the one they were hoping Tiger would choose but because he wasn’t happy with the first logo and not participating in the selection process, they decided not to push him.
Now, jump ahead four years —
I’m watching the 2001 US Open and Tiger tees off. The camera zooms in on him and BAM! There’s my TW logo on his cap! “Holy CRAP” I muttered to myself, so the following Monday morning I contacted one of the two art directors I worked with on the project back in ’97 (both had since left Nike) and explained what I had seen on TV. He confirmed Nike had just introduced the “new” Tiger Woods logo and that I should talk to the newly assigned head of Nike Golf which I did.
I explained the whole story of my involvement in 1997 even sending copies of my electronic files from April of that year to back my claim including my Design Rationale for the TW banner concept which Nike used almost verbatim on their website to introduce the new Tiger Woods logo… which became his third logo.
Are you still with me so far?
Apparently, no one ever liked the old (second) logo and eventually Nike was able to convince Tiger it was time for a change so they brought out all the old doodles, thumbnails, and bar napkins from 1997 and revisited them to find a brand new logo for the now unbeatable, legend-in-the-making Tiger Woods.
He remembered my TW banner concept and still liked it as did Nike and so it was chosen. But no one could recall whose concept it was since there were four separate companies and 50 some-odd designers who originally worked on the project four years earlier in 1997. Plus, the two art directors on the project were now long gone so Nike hired a different design studio to finish the logo out then Nike went ahead and produced and launched it which of course I didn’t know about until I just happened to tune in to watch the 2001 US Open.
I should mention by the way that Nike did absolutely nothing wrong at all and I was compensated accordingly since it was my concept that was chosen and produced albeit four years after I came up with it.
And there you have it! My “Tiger Tale”.