Creative Best Practices

Nike Runs In A Different Messaging Direction – What Other Brands Can Learn

Posted by Mike Hagan on May 24th, 2012 at 11:49 am

Sometimes even the most well known brands change their messaging. This is usually done during a rebranding process, implementing a makeover to redefine key messages to consumers, but sometimes a brand makes changes when they are missing a portion of their target market.

Every week, I go to my parents' house to watch American Idol. One night a few weeks ago they were tuned in with my sister, and being the outcast of the family who doesn’t watch Idol, I sat on my laptop in the kitchen playing music through my headphones in an attempt to drown out the nauseating voices of the judges (it’s appalling to me that a certain female judge can be considered a reputable gauge of musical talent). Commercial breaks were used for their own judging sessions, while playing on their phones or in my mom’s case, reading a book. During one break, a catchy tune from the TV prompted a lengthy, uncommon silence from the peanut gallery.

The spot was a Nike ad unlike any I had seen before.

Instead of an intense pump up song, the tune sounded like it was straight out of an Apple ad. The short musical strays from Nike’s typical messaging, telling a non-sports related story that evokes love and humor, certainly not the emotions we are used to feeling from a Nike TV spot.  The “RUN STRONGER” slogan is new. Even the action of closing the curtain is scandalous for a Nike ad, as its implications could ruffle some conservative feathers. Despite these differences, the ad has been well received. It’s received over 1.6 million views on YouTube in 4 weeks, and can also be found on the bottom of On-Demand for certain cable users.

For the most part, Nike devotes different campaigns and budgets to their various product lines, which they seem to have for every sport imaginable. Most of the TV spots for these various product lines are consistently creative and inspiring – yet all monotonous. Someone must have realized that the serious tonality in each of these campaigns was missing the target audience for Nike Running. The new, lighter campaign is an example of how a brand can stray from the norm and alter their messaging depending on what product line they are selling. A brand like Nike has the ability to do this because of their extensive product differentiation. A smaller brand that offers only a few products would likely encounter great difficulty if they tried sending various messages without confusing the consumer.

When we perform thorough brand evaluations with our clients, we recognize it’s important to pore through the brand’s equities, their target consumer, the environment in which they operate, and their vision for the future. Not every company can come close to the breadth of a Nike, but they can take a strategic look at their own messaging, and decide if a new angle is needed.

One Response to “Nike Runs In A Different Messaging Direction – What Other Brands Can Learn”

  1. Marielle says:

    Hey Mike, thanks for the article. I really enjoyed reading it - the Nike ad is great! I hope Nike keeps them coming.

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