Thursday, 16 December 2010

"The Next Level" – Nike Football's Branded Utility

While Nike had been gaining traction in soccer for years, it had been losing traction with advanced players, who tended to gravitate toward rivals such as Adidas as they moved into more-serious competition. The 2008 European Championships presented just the opportunity to change this perception.  Note:  This campaign is a few years old now, but would work as well today as the day it was launched.  Great ideas are great ideas.  Period.

What resulted was the kind of campaign (by 72andSunny) that proved that it doesn't take a big footprint to do great work that delivers results.  Moreover, this is also exactly what we mean when we talk about branded content and utility - brands creating something that is participatory and useful/valuable to their customers.

The centerpiece of the program was a striking, fast-paced two-minute film directed by Guy Richie, which shows one athlete's first-person view of taking his game to a higher and higher level (first person POV complete with pre-match vomiting and requests for autographs).

Taking the self improvement theme further, an online "boot camp" based on Nike's site provided video-based advanced training and skills regiments. The short film by Guy Ritchie featured superstars such as Cesc Fabregas, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo showing off dazzling skills, but positioned in the context of all the training it takes to get to the next level.

The effort drove 50 million unique visitors to Nike's site in six months, a total that doesn't include external websites such as YouTube, where one posting of Ritchie's film has drawn more than 4.2 million views. Print and outdoor executions focused on specific elite skills, and challenged readers as to whether they had them while also prominently referring them to the website.