Nike pushes the boundaries of what digital marketing means

June 24, 2008

 “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?


Brands I Love: Adidas – Impossible is Nothing

March 22, 2008

When I was growing up, soccer was my Ali_Impossible_Is_Nothingsport of choice despite the fact I lived in the very football crazy town of Canton, Ohio (home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame).  I started playing when I was six years old and since that time, Adidas has been one of my favorite brands.  In the early years, the brand served as a statement for us soccer players because Adidas was a soccer brand.  It was a way to show the world (or at that time, the school) who we were and what we were about.  In that sense, I loved my Adidas Samba shoes and today I’m probably on my 15th pair of them.  Adidas has, and always will be, a lovemark for me.

That lovemark status helps drive my infatuation with their “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign.  In fact, I have a picture of the campaign hanging behind my desk at work to serve as everyday inspiration.  What I find interesting is the contrast behind Nike and Adidas.  Both are extremely successful companies and both have amazing marketing (possibly two of the best in the world).  But why is Nike just a brand I respect while Adidas is a brand I love?  Read the rest of this entry »

Nike – There are no Cinderella stories

March 12, 2008

I just saw this great new spot by Nike called Clocktower that is for their latest Jordan launch.  It never ceases to amaze me how Nike continiously nails the emotional feeling of an athlete.  The insight that Cinderella stories don’t happen without hard work is dead on.  And even better, the spot connects with true fans who recognize the significance of snapshots like the practice football play being run on the Boise State field.  Brilliant yet again.