A patron who witnessed Tiger Woods’s victory at the Masters on Sunday said it’s a story “we’ll be telling our grand-kids.”
Nike didn’t wait that long. It was on top of the story immediately. Nike scored big with its 51-second ad showing videos and images of Woods from the age of 3 to winning his fifth Masters at the age of 43. Words on the screen reminded viewers that Tiger has experienced “every high and every low.”
The stories we pass down have a structure, a time-tested formula called the Hero’s Journey. Mythologist Joseph Campbell first identified the journey in his groundbreaking 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell didn’t create the formula; he revealed the universal pattern common to heroic myths in every culture.
Woods’s story follows the structure almost perfectly which is why its irresistible. In its simplest form Campbell’s hero is called to an adventure (Tiger’s quest to become the greatest golfer of all time), meets a mentor who provides wisdom along the journey (Tiger’s dad, Earl), faces challenges and temptations (Tiger’s domestic and physical problems), and returns triumphantly as a transformed person (Tiger wins the Masters for the first time in nearly 15 years and “becomes the person he wanted to be,” according to Sports Illustrated).