After looking at Nike’s marketing strategy with respect to product, price, place and promotion, the outstanding success of the brand name calls for more attention to Nike’s promotional strategies. Nike’s promotions and advertisements have been deemed the best in the retail industry. The “Just Do It” slogan is supposedly one of the most famous and easily recognized slogans in advertising history. It would be safe to claim that brand management is easily one of Nike’s core capabilities. With the company’s advertising budget today reaching $2.4 billion, it is worth looking into Nike’s advertising strategies and how these strategies helped strengthen the brand image.
1980-1988: Early Advertising
Before television advertisements, Nike released several successful print ads. One of its earliest print ad campaigns was the “There is no finish line” campaign by John Brown and Partners. The posters were an instant hit, since, it did not focus on the running shoe product, but instead on the person wearing the shoes.
At this early stage, Nike saw the lucrative value in sports sponsorships. The company began sponsoring track and field athletes like Carl Lewis. With lucky breaks, Nike signed some bigger names in the athletic world like Wayne Gretzy and, probably the most important sponsorship signing in Nike history, Michael Jordan.
1988: The JUST DO IT Campaign
This campaign was probably Nike’s most known and successful. In 1988, Nike worked with ad agency Wieden and Kennedy to create the slogan Just Do It. The company used this campaign to cash in on the jogging/fitness craze of the 80s. Top competitor Reebok was sweeping the aerobics race so Nike responded with Just Do It ads that practically shamed people into exercising, and more importantly, to exercise in Nikes. The Just Do It ads truly embodied the philosophy of grit, determination and passion to encourage consumers to embrace the culture of fitness rather than focus on the product.
The Just Do It campaigns were also successful because of their celebrity features including Bo Jackson, John McEnroe, and Michael Jordan. These famous athletes reassured the quality of the Nike product and gave Nike a “hip” brand image. These ads were basically turning sweaty, pain-ridden exercise into something sexy and exciting. And lastly, the Just Do It ads were usually humorous, thus connecting to consumers on a level that made them comfortable and feeling positive about the brand.
Using its cooperations with various ad agencies, Nike released several popular and well-received TV commercials. In fact, the company received two Emmy awards for best commercial twice. The first was for “The Morning After,” which featured a runner on his morning jog on January 1, 2000, facing the chaos of the Y2K predictions. The commercial really connected to consumer emotions, as speculations of the new millennium were the conversation buzz around that time.
The second Emmy was for a Nike commercial called “Move” that featured many famous and regular athletes performing a serious of athletic pursuits in a creative “pass it on” way. Starting in 2005, Nike released another successful ad campaign that were targeted at athletic woman. The ad focused on women’s Thunder Thighs and Big Butts, encouraging them to embrace their athletic body parts and shapes. This was yet another successful way Nike connected to the consumer on a personal level, as we all know that women tend to care about their self images.
2005 to Present
Having built up an empire of a brand, Nike continued to focus on celebrity endorsements. Nike took famous athletes in a variety of sports to feature them in ads. LeBron James from basketball, Tom Brady from football, Ronaldhino from soccer, Roger Federer from tennis and Tiger Woods from golf, just to name a few. Using the A-list, top-notch names in the athletic world really helped tip Nike over into the “elite” brand division. At this point, Nike is reaching its peak in sales and in brand image.
Having reached this peak, Nike is now changing up the promotion game and branching out to the digital world. With a 40% decrease in print and TV advertising, Nike is now trying to stray away from superstars. Now that Nike as perfected the art of branding, it is moving on to a world where consumers want to be told less. In 2010, Nike launched its new marketing division called Nike Digital Sport. This digital focus on sports conceived the Nike+ platform, which is a marriage of Apple and Nike technologies that allows people to track their athletic performance. It is also a platform that allows Nike to virtually have personal conversations with its consumers and, subtly study its consumer’s behavioural patterns.
Overall, it seems like Nike is always in tune with consumer preferences and addresses them through strategic and well-executed advertising tactics. It is no surprise that the Nike brand is one of the most well recognized in the world.
Courtney from Study Moose
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