In the world of athletic apparel, there’s Nike and then everyone else. Sure, Adidas and Reebok have had their moments. But there’s nothing quite like the signature Nike Swoosh—arguably the most recognizable logos in the world. The power and impact of Nike extends far beyond their extensive product line that includes shoes, t-shirts, shorts, sunglasses and everything in between. It’s their utilization of multimedia communication through creative advertising, celebrity endorsers and powerful imagery that has enabled Nike to transform from a little-known company Blue Ribbon Sports to the multi-billion dollar giant that it is today.
So from a marketer’s perspective, how exactly has Nike been able to stay ahead of its competition? Let’s take a look at a few of the channels that Nike uses to communicate with its customers.
Turn on any sports channel and you’re bound to see a Nike advertisement during a commercial break. The company’s “Just Do It” campaign, which was launched in 1988, is arguably the last great advertising slogan of all time.
Starting with that simple ad, Nike’s advertising power and impact has only increased over the years. One of the main reasons has been the use of celebrity endorsers. Michael Jordan is the obvious top dog, having created his own product line, Air Jordan. Other famous athletes like Bo Jackson and LeBron James have been featured in memorable advertisements that connect with Nike’s customer base. The list of famous Nike ads is endless, but here’s a great list of the top 25. And honestly, who could say no to Bo?
Social Media Marketing
Like any smart company, Nike has adapted to the times and maintained a strong social media presence. The company utilizes Facebook and Twitter and smartly has individual pages/accounts for specific sports. Interestingly, Nike has also established its own social media platform, which I will discuss further. Let’s take a quick peek at Nike’s social media presence below.
Besides having a main Facebook page for the overall company (with nearly 23 million likes), Nike smartly has individual pages for each of its product categories. For example, the Nike Running page has more than 3 million likes and features posts specifically geared toward the running community. The pages aren’t dedicated to just specific sports, either. The Nike+ FuelBand page is all about the company’s famous fitness product and is just another way for customers (or potential ones) to learn more and interact as a community.
Like on Facebook, Nike maintains more than just one Twitter account. Search “Nike” under the people section on Twitter and you’ll literally find dozens of verified accounts that are somehow attached to the Nike brand. This includes everything from sport-specific accounts (Nike Football and Nike Basketball) to location-based accounts (Nike NYC and Nike Boston). The sport-specific accounts are extremely interactive, tweeting out motivational tips and workout strategies like this one:
These location-based accounts specifically tweet out items related to people in the area, which helps build that emotional connection. For instance, the Boston account sent out this tweet about the New England Patriots, who recently won the AFC Championship and are playing in Super Bowl XLIX.
Though Nike isn’t as active on Pinterest, it does smartly target the main Pinterest demographic: women. The Nike Women Pinterest page features 30 boards, and more than 84,000 followers. It includes everything from gift guides to motivational photos to female athlete boards. While I’m not a big Pinterest user myself, it’s clear that Nike is targeting the main user demographic in an effective manner.
One of the more fascinating ways in which Nike utilizes online multimedia communications is through its own social media platform. According to an article on The Globe and The Mail, Nike+ has amassed more than 30 million members, due largely to the success of its FuelBand product. The platform enables members to track different workout metrics, set daily goals, earn achievement points and even challenge friends. Building that community is what enables Nike to expand beyond a single consumer and further develop a following. And in today’s society that has really taken an onus on exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, this social media platform is an excellent example of adapting to the times.
What makes Nike a marketing and branding success is so much like the athletes its sponsors. A constant drive to be the best and an ability to adapt and change with the times in order to stay ahead of the game is what’s kept Nike atop the athletic apparel industry. And as Air Jordan himself has done, Nike has become legendary.