Can we spell anguish? Blindsided?
There's no athlete who's ever walked the earth more cognizant of nor more careful with the conveyance of his "brand" than Tiger Woods. So when CNBC (non-sports outlet) trumpets their "exclusive" interview with Tiger Woods, you can assume that Tiger is there to market and sell. Certainly, he's not there to discuss his personal life nor his private financial endeavors. Hell, he's not even there to discuss golf!
Fortunately, for fans of cringe-inducing awkwardness, nobody passed that memo on to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.
Last Friday, Bartiromo interviewed Woods in what was positioned up front as an educational fluff piece on the intricacies of a company called FUSE Science, an entity behind which Tiger has put his ample marketing and (likely) financial muscle:
MIAMI LAKES, Fla., Oct. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Fuse Science, Inc. (OTCQB: DROP), (www.fusescience.com) an innovative company that possesses proprietary technologies set to redefine how consumers receive energy, medicines, vitamins and minerals, today announced that CEO Brian Tuffin and Tiger Woods are scheduled to appear together today on CNBC's "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo" shortly after 4:00 PM ET.
Mr. Tuffin will be discussing the recent scientific results achieved by Fuse Science that they believe will provide a more efficient way to deliver medicine, nutrients and other actives to the human body.
So that memo has no mention of Tiger's discussing golf, his personal life, his sponsors or really anything other than a company called FUSE. Actually, unlike most superstar athlete fluff interviews, they are actually telling you up front exactly what it will be. Reading the above excerpt of the marketing memo, you can almost feel the boredom jumping off your computer screen and permeating your brain.
Well, Bartiromo had questions about FUSE, but really had questions about so much more. Watch the video below, and then let's break this baby down Zapruder-style afterwards:
0:10 -- As they go to the commercial break before the Woods interview, Bartiromo says, "And next, my CNBC exclusive with golf legend TIGER WOODS. We will talk about the world of corporate sponsorships after what happened with Lance (Armstrong), don't touch that remote!"
Well, damn, I don't see anywhere in the tidy little press release about this "exclusive" interview where Lance Armstrong is going to be a topic. How does Lance Armstrong tie into FUSE? How does Lance Armstrong tie into "a more efficient way to deliver medicine, nutrients and other actives to the human body?" (Actually, the answer to that second question is another post unto itself having nothing to do with Tiger Woods.)
0:23 -- Bartiromo comes back from the break talking about Lance Armstrong, sponsors and Nike "sticking with" Tiger. Given Tiger's propensity to stick to a script, the "AWKWARD" alert for this interview just got raised to orange, veering toward red as they show a presumably-pooping-himself Tiger Woods ready to begin dodging a bunch of personal questions.
0:50 -- Bartiromo actually does start with a FUSE question, but it has nothing to do with FUSE's products, strategy or origin. No, Maria Bartiromo comes out firing right away with "What is your financial interest in the company?" which induces the same uncomfortable feeling that you'd get watching Michael Scott ask David Wallace what he paid for his house on The Office.
1:04 -- Tiger's answer to the question "What is your financial interest in the company?":
"Well, I'm just excited to be part of a company like this, with Brian and all the great executives and just an amazing group of scientists...you know, you always want to partner up with innovative companies and FUSE is certainly doing that, um, what they've done with sublingual drops, which I use, um, Electrofuse, and now what we're coming out with it's just [awesome disingenuous phony smile and chuckle]...it's just absolutely amazing, and it does help, um, being part of such an innovative company is very exciting."
Some not so artful dodging of the question by Tiger, but if he was hoping the "financial stake" question was going to disappear quietly into the night, well, he had another thing coming...
1:44 -- Bartiromo follow-up: "Do you have an ownership interest in this company, Tiger?"
Yeah, Maria isn't really into the amazing products and the amazing group of scientists and in hearing how many times you can use the word "innovative" in a 30-second span, Tiger. She wants portfolio info, fool!
1:50 -- Tiger snubs Maria with an "I'm not gonna talk about my financial interests" and then sprinkles another handful of "amazings" and some fawning over the scientists, who if they were as good as Tiger says they are, then maybe they could figure out what the hell is wrong with his short game.
2:05 -- Bartiromo asks how the product works, allowing Tiger to get to his favorite part of any interview -- the part where he no longer has to talk. He hands it over to FUSE CEO Brian Tuffin, who sets out to break the record for most confusing medical words used in a 30-second time span. (Actually, if what I can gather from the five seconds or so of Tuffin's pitch that I understood is correct, they're working on technology where you can take injectables like insulin and put them in a patch or a roll-on and take them through the skin, which is actually pretty cool. Props, FUSE!)
3:00 -- Maria gives a dismissively patronizing "Yeah, that sure does sound innovative..." to Tuffin, which was basically a signal to Tuffin that his services are no longer needed on this interview. "Enough transdermal nutrient bullshit!" Bartiromo says to herself. Let's get back to TIGER! Which she immediately does, asking Tiger if he thinks Lance Armstrong will ever get his sponsors back.
3:10 -- Tiger blurts out a God-I-hope-this-interview-ends-soon "I don't know" and begins babbling before Bartiromo cuts him off and asks how long it takes to get "back to normal," as if Tiger's life is (a) ever normal and (b) has returned to the point which Bartiromo perceives to be normal.
3:20 -- If you look carefully, you can see the thought bubble over Tiger's head. Inside the thought bubble is a picture of whichever P.R. person scheduled this interview with Maria Bartiromo without giving her a list of acceptable questions, and that P.R. person is being bludgeoned with a pitching wedge.
By the way, I have compiled Tiger's list of acceptable questions for this interview below:
1. So Tiger, tell us about FUSE. 2. How amazing are the scientists with FUSE? 3. How amazing are the executives with FUSE? 4. Do you use the amazing products from FUSE? 5. How do the innovative FUSE products work so amazingly? (NOTE: Defer to Brian.) 6. Token golf question: How does your swing feel?
3:30 -- Tiger tries to dodge the "return to normalcy" question with a general "I have great sponsors" answer, but Maria is a bulldog. She will not be denied! Maria Bartiromo wipes her ass with your canned answers, Tiger! She goes back in on the "normalcy" topic.
3:45 -- Tiger's microchip in his brain goes into "DISASTER" mode and he defaults to talking about golf, saying that he can't control the media, all he can control is hitting his draw and his fade and making some putts. He also points out he even won a few tournaments this year.
4:05 -- Tournaments? Maria is like, "Whatever, Tiger. You didn't win any majors!" YES! Maria is trash-talking Tiger! Will she ever get an interview with him again? Probably not, but she is going down in a blaze of glory. She asks Tiger about breaking Jack Nicklaus's record for majors, and Tiger points out that he's only 36 years old and Jack didn't win his final one until he was 46. He's worked on this answer before, clearly.
4:20 -- One final golf question on the way out, which allows Tiger to talk about consistency and the "bad days not being so bad, and the good days being great." Lots of Tiger speak, and a look of relief on Woods's face as the finish line is in sight.
5:08 -- Maria Bartiromo says "thanks."
5:10 -- Tiger Woods says "thanks."
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Off camera, five seconds after the end of the video -- Tiger Woods takes a nine iron to his publicist's SUV.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.