Walking up the final fairway at the Masters Sunday afternoon, Tiger Woods removed his cap humbled by the rapturous applause of the several thousand golf enthusiasts crowded around the famous Augusta 18th green. After 2 months of strategic planning, a courteous 4th place finish and a sanguine smile, brand Tiger was back.

In November 2009, Tiger Woods was the biggest sports star on the planet. Having recently become the world’s first Billion Dollar sportsman, Woods had propelled himself into the pantheon of sporting leviathans with 14 Major wins and 595 weeks as World Number 1. Held on a pedestal by both front and back pages, Tiger was a brand with global reach, heavy in demand and without blemish.

Ever since the (now) well documented interview with GQ magazine back in 1997, the Tiger brand has been micro-managed by his team at I.M.G. Lead by Mark Steinberg, they have built Woods into an infallible fortress of success. Feared and revered on the course, loved and respected in the home. As Vanity Fair would later call him in a post-scandal article, Tiger was the ‘sui generis in the world of pro golf….. crafted to produce a man of nothing, with no interior—non-threatening and non-controversial.’

These attributes generated Woods and Co. vast sums in return for his halo effect on sales of sportswear, watches, sports drinks, razor blades, video games and international management consultancy – to name but a few.

With the coming of an incident with a fire hydrant came cracks in this glossy façade. No longer would Tiger be known for his unflappable press conference appearances, his seeming ability to bypass nerves when stakes were raised to their highest or his authority on which brands we should spend our money – Tiger the brand and Tiger the man had, for the first time, been parted akin to the most religious of fashions.

Last Wednesday, hours before the 2010 US Masters was due to commence, Nike released their new Tiger Ad. Having gone all quiet on the Tiger front since voicing their intentions to remain as the largest of his massively diminished pool of sponsors, Nike re-entered the fray with a 30 second lecture by Tiger’s late father Earl Woods. According to Advertising Age, the video was viewed 2.2m times in the first 48hrs whilst being streamed across nightly news channels world wide.

Zeta Interactive, a US based social media monitoring firm, reported Nike’s online positive sentiment rating as increasing 15 points to 83pc after the Ad first ran. After two days, the volume of traffic using the word ‘Nike’ had increased by 270pc.

With CBS and ESPN (official US Masters broadcasters) seeing a 47pc increase in TV ratings for the tournament’s first round and Tiger pulling increases in his positive sentiment ratings, had the charm offensive – which began with a 14 minute micro-managed public statement 2 months earlier and ended in a post match all-smiles-interview with CBS’ Peter Kostis – paid off?

There can be no doubting that the above figures show a retained and potentially increasing thirst for all things Tiger Woods. In testament to the clever management of Tiger’s brand over the past 13 years, Nike have started a new conversation about Tiger Woods. In yet another exemplary show of nous, Nike have cross fertilized a golf tournament with both traditional and social media marketing campaigns that have given them the lead in moving the all new Tiger brand forward.

Having re-glazed the Tiger façade and set a course for the future, however, will consumers worldwide want to have a conversation with a brand that has effectively deceived them for 13 years?

For me, I’m left in two minds. Shakespeare would say there no legacy as rich as honesty. On the other hand, perhaps my golf shoes just need to be good golf shoes, irrespective of what’s made me buy them.