Nike at 2012 London Olympic Games

Nike, Inc. is the leading global designer and manufacturer of footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories. Nike, since its inception, has relied heavily on endorsements and sponsorships of sports celebrities like Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong to promote its products. A sports brand like Nike needed to have its presence felt in Olympics Games.

The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of human sport and achievement but, with a massive viewership across continents, they also serve an ideal platform for marketers. The London Games 2012 were no exception (it went on to become the most watched sporting event of all time) and Nike, which was not the official sponsor, managed to stand out.

Just see it: Green colored Nike shoes were hard to miss out
Just see it: Green colored Nike shoes were hard to miss out

Nike was everywhere at London – superb placement of its hoardings across London, cleverly identified sponsored sportspersons who give it the maximum visibility at the Games and the dimpled track suits along with distinct neon yellow-green Volt shoes made people sit up and take notice. 43% of medalists in athletic events endorsed Nike. More than 400 athletes including USA’s Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee, Great Britain’s Mo Farah and France’s Renaud Lavillenie competed with the Nike Volt shoes on them. The green-yellow color was carefully chosen as it’s the most visible color to the human eye. It was remarkably visible against the red track, blue fencing stage and the black boxing ring. Nike had earlier scored a PR homerun when it found Egyptian Olympic team using counterfeit Nike outfit and rather than complain about piracy, decided to donate them Nike outfits. Add a bold brand new ad campaign and positioning (“Find your greatness”) to it and you have a successful well rounded marketing strategy.

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“Find your greatness” campaign’s message was simple – it featured everyday athletes from multiple locations called London around the world, to illustrate that greatness can be found by anyone, anywhere. It was a powerful message at a time when the world was focused on London, UK and it appealed instantly to all the sports lovers around the globe.

It’s clear that Nike struck gold at London Games and it was not just an accident – it was a result of effective implementation of seemingly very simple insights. The beauty of it all is that Nike wasn’t a sponsor of London Games 2012, but it came off as one.

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Shantanu Maheshwari is a PGP2 student and a member of Niche. He did his Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Computer Science at IIT, Kanpur (2009 batch)

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