Nike pushes the boundaries of what digital marketing means

 “We’ve been viewing digital as less of a marketing channel than a place for services.” -Stefan Olander, Nike, Global Director of Digital Media

I am fascinated by how Nike is embracing digital.  While others are content to view digital as another marketing tactic or ad medium, Nike is taking it a step further.  They are viewing it as a place to reinforce their brand equities by providing meaningful servies…or what they call Brand Utilities. 

Digital marketing through brand utilities

They first entered this space with Nike+, the training system partnership with Apple that lets runners track and share their data online.  Though I am not a runner, I still consider Nike+ one of the coolest brand experiences of the digital age and their RunLondon mash-up is a regular feature in any presentation I give.   Now Nike is giving me even more fodder for presentations as they expand their Brand Utilities to Soccer (through a program called Boot Camp) and Basketball (with a Facebook application called Baller’s Network).

What is fascinating as a Brand Marketer is how Nike is reinforcing their tagline of “Just Do It” and Brand Mantra of “Authentic Athletic Performance” through these programs.  If you aren’t familiar with Brand Mantra (also known as Brand Essence), it is the “heart and soul of a brand” and “is constant across product categories and countries.”  It sets the boundaries for a brand to work within. 

A partner instead of a product

Thus, through these Brand Utilities, Nike is defining itself as more than just an athletic apparrel company…more than just a shoe company.  Nike is elevating themself above competition.  They are giving a meaningful service to the athletes and becoming a partner instead of just a product.  Just think about that for a moment.  Instead of treating digital marketing as an ad buy, they are treating it as a way to form a deeper relationship with athletes all over the world.  They are going beyond a funny viral video, MySpace profile or beautiful banner ad and instead creating a digital brand experience that forms a connection with their audience.  Few, if any, brands are thinking about digital this way but they should be. 

How could your brand use digital to connect with people?

4 Responses to Nike pushes the boundaries of what digital marketing means

  1. Charlie says:

    Fantastic post, Dave. Have you also had a good look at Nike’s soccer network, Joga.com?

  2. Dave Knox says:

    Charlie – Thanks for the kind words. I have seen Joga and think it is stellar as well. So much potential for brands to cultivate relationships through digital in these ways.

  3. […] need to build an experience…they need to create Brand Utility for consumers.  Nike was able to do it for shoes and sporting equipment.  Now Entourage & Whrrl show it is possible […]

  4. […] Knox, a P&G Brand Manager that also blogs at Hard Knox Life, has an interesting post up about […]

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