Cannes: Sportswear maker Nike Inc., whose “Just Do It” slogan is one of the most recognised in the advertising world, is taking the iconic brand forward with a combination of digital and real-time communications efforts.
Taking advantage of the digital media age, Nike is aspiring to be a source of empowerment, not just inspiration, for sports enthusiasts, Stefan Olander, Nike’s global director for brand connections, said at the Cannes Festival.
Innovative approach : A showroom displaying Nike shoes. The company is encouraging customers to custom-design their own shoes online. (Photo: Ramesh Pathan / Mint)
One example the executive cited is the ‘Ballers Network’ that the US-based manufacturer of sports shoes, clothes and equipment has set up to help basketball enthusiasts hook up with other players online through social networking site Facebook.
“We built an application and wondered which was the biggest network that we could use,” Olander said. “It was Facebook. Ballers Network has 1,700 basket ball courts listed. You can find a game near you.”
“There are recent games played, leagues, teams, etc., and it helps people figure out which are the best courts they can play in,” says Olander.
On 31 August, Nike is organizing a ‘Human Race’ billed as the world’s largest running event, covering 25 cities. The race is open to all, with only a sign-in required at nikeplus.com to participate.
Runners can track their miles with Nike +iPod—the product resulting from a tie-up with Apple Inc.—or the fitness device SportsBand, and then download the miles on nikeplus.com to have their results officially counted as part of the race.
Olander explains how the interactive event works: When you sign up, you have a profile. You can have a cause, you can run for a city, or you can check out which are the people nearby who are running as well. There’s a social responsibility aspect to it as well. When you sign up, you can decide whether you want to support the World Wildlife Fund, for instance.
This race will be promoted on television, print and outdoor advertising channels, but Olander is counting mainly on the ripple effect of the targeted community.
“Nike’s marketing efforts revolve around what young consumers do,” he said. “I think that now our company has a different role from inspirational. Our mission now is to make athletes better,” he says.
Bob Greenberg, chairman, CEO and global chief creative officer at the New York-based advertising firm R/GA, says that Nike is the leader in terms of the relationship between marketing and technology.
“We’ve worked seven years with Nike, and I think that Nike knows more about innovation than any other brand,” he said.
High technology will also be at play in the Nike iD website designed to enable users to go online and customize their own shoes. Nike iD even has a library where people can go and check out shoes of a certain colour or shoes designed by other people.
“We have reached a stage where we want to make sure that consumers can do more,” says Olander. “Nike iD added studios with design consultants to enable people to go and create designs, and custom-make their own shoes,” he says.
“It gives customers a hands-on experience,” he adds. “If I want to custom-make my shoe, I needn’t have to go to a store.”