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International: Nike tries a new advertising medium: Blogs

08-June-2004
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International: Nike tries a new advertising medium: Blogs

Gawker Media, a small company that operates Web logs on culture and politics, like Gawker and Wonkette, has begun blogging on behalf of major advertisers.

The company’s first paid blog is for Nike. Called Art of Speed, the blog will spend about a month showcasing a series of 15 short films on the theme of speed, all commissioned by Nike. Gawker Media Contract Productions, a new division of Gawker Media, will supply layout, commentary, links and other features. Terms were not disclosed.

“A lot of marketers are interested in Web logs as a medium,” said Mr Nick Denton, publisher at Gawker Media in New York. “One thing to do is to run advertising campaigns on the sites. Some marketers are moving one step beyond that and looking at other ways they can engage this new form of independent media.”

The blog will spend about a month showcasing a series of 15 short films on the theme of speed, all commissioned by Nike

The approach, Mr Denton stressed, is borrowed from the print tradition of advertorials and special advertising sections.

Although Nike did not exercise editorial control beyond contributing the 15 films, bloggers said they wondered whether bought-and-paid-for content could succeed in the idiosyncratic world of Web logs, where an independent and acerbic streak (particularly when it comes to mainstream media) is highly valued.

“I’m skeptical that a lot of online readers would be interested in reading an advertorial blog,” Mr Patrick Phillips, the publisher of a blog called I Want Media, said. “If you go to a site, and you know you’re being sold something, I don’t know that there’s going to be a lot of interest.”

Gawker Media sites have distinguished themselves with a tone that says, “I’ve got no strings.” In a post on Thursday, for example, the editor of Gawker reported that he had given up his membership at Soho House, the exclusive Manhattan social club. “They gave me a choice between not covering Soho House on Gawker and remaining a member,” wrote the editor, Mr Choire Sicha. “I chose my dignity. Kidding! I mean, I chose trashy gossip.”

The established Gawker Media sites receive from 400,000 to 700,000 visitors each month, according to Mr Denton, but Nike executives said the important point was quality, not quantity. “It’s the right community,” said Mr Nate Tobecksen, a communications manager at Nike, who called the Gawker crowd creative.

Source: NY TIMES

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