“It's not a single product model, nor a single manager, nor one ad, nor a single celebrity, not even a single innovation that is key to Nike. It is the people of Nike, and their unique and creative way of working together" – Phil Knight, Chairman of the Board and Nike Co-Founder.
The sports brand has set the bar high and has managed to raise it higher through memorable advertising campaigns. From cashing in on the Olympic fever and getting ahead of arch rival Adidas through the ‘Find your Greatness’ campaign to passing the torch to the next generation of sports heroes through ‘The Chosen’ campaign, Nike’s campaigns have garnered maximum eyeballs.
One cannot forget the magic of the ‘Write the Future’ campaign that allowed Nike to show how football creates a ripple effect that goes beyond the match and the tournament. The brand highlighted the game of one goal, one pass, one game saving tackle that can be the difference between fame and forgotten. Though not the official sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics, in ambush mode Nike launched its ‘Find your Greatness’ campaign in 25 countries, featuring everyday athletes competing in places around the world named London.
In India, Nike has capitalised on the country’s craze for cricket and cleverly captured the pulse of the nation.
Nike India launched the nationwide ‘Bleed Blue’ cricket initiative aimed at harnessing the passion of millions of Indians and the Indian Cricket team by proving that 'Blue' is not just a colour, but a a billion hopes, dreams and aspirations. The Indian fan's passion and dedication inspired him/ her to leave his blue hand print on sheets of fabric that Nike sent across various locations in the country.
Further, this campaign was extended on to the digital platform for fans who may choose to express their support digitally, through Facebook and the Nikecricket website. Participants generated their own digital handprints through Facebook connect by simply logging on to the Nikecricket site and entering their Facebook user ID and password. The platform ensured relevant information from the participant's Facebook profile to generate a blue handprint. Bleed Blue Pledge featured elite cricket athletes such as Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, S Sreesanth, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir, describing the tenets of their game.
‘Blood, sweat and blue’ was the idea of JWT India for the campaign. Blood and sweat represents the hard work and determination of the players and the blue colour was opted because of the blue jerseys of Team India. This was followed up with ‘Yards’ that was based on the insight that in India, the cricket that's played on the streets gives birth to the cricket played in stadiums.
After the historic ICC Cricket World Cup victory by Team India, Nike launched the third ad film, titled 'United by Blue'. The ad portrayed the passion of a country united through cricket and the realisation of the much-awaited 28-year long dream. It showed kids celebrating the victory with equal passion as the national team that brought laurels to the world's greatest cricket nation.
Then came the effortless, natural and superbly edited ‘Nike’s Parallel Journeys’ commercial, which is part of the company’s Bleed Blue campaign. The ad begins with ordinary Indians waking up to the same routine as members of the Indian cricket team. They wake up, get dressed for practice, travel, train intensively, and come to the pitch amid the cries of frenzied crowds, living parallel lives. The ad travels the length and breadth of the country, capturing the determination and aspiration through the eyes of every young cricketer, while also depicting a similar journey that Team India’s elite athletes, including Kohli, Zaheer, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, take to uphold their dream to represent their country.
Cricket is the only sport that is worshipped, played and watched religiously by two-thirds of this country. So it makes sense for the brand to associate with the sport and have a strike rate better than other brands. Nike’s ads have always struck a chord with the audience and have been loved by one and all. The brand has won at least a dozen-odd Grand Prix in award shows and categories due to the brilliant insights, powerful ideas and spectacular execution. Hence, it can be said that they just did it!