The Nike Model

Have you heard of the “Find your Greatness” campaign by Nike which created a stir in the media back in 2012? It is said that during this time Nike spent half of what its rival, Adidas spent to capture the market, yet Nike got the most attention and exposure. What was this campaign all about?

Let us time travel to 2012, when the Summer Olympics were held in London and several reputed companies were vying to become the title sponsors of this event. Likewise, the two well-known arch-rivals of sports apparel too were competing to get the title sponsorship. And, these two competitors were none other than Adidas and Nike. Adidas managed to win this title sponsorship by paying a whopping amount of $150 million. To get the most out of this deal, Adidas consulted with the Olympic committee and convinced it to issue strict rules and regulations forbidding other companies to associate themselves with the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Olympics Committee even went further to ban the use of keywords like “2012”, “London Olympics”, “Summer Olympics”, and “Rings of Olympics” by other companies other than Adidas. In other words, Adidas established itself as the sole brand to leverage the grand 2012 Summer Olympics.

Nike would have easily given up and forgotten about the lost sponsorship. But, Nike bounced back with a marketing strategy effective enough to get people all over the world talking about its brand instead of Adidas. After spending a whopping amount of $150 million, Adidas managed to get 12000 followers on its social media while Nike got 57000 followers.

These were the tactics implemented by Nike to turn the tables down.

Nike exploited many loopholes in the rules issued by the Olympic committee. The companies were banned from sponsoring the event but the athletes were free to choose any shoes they wanted. Hence, Nike made 400 athletes as their brand ambassadors and asked them to wear Nike shoes while performing at the event. For this purpose, Nike came up with yellow-green shoes known as “Volts”. This color was chosen intentionally to provide the shoes with distinction and perfect visibility due to the contrasting color of the track.

The Olympic Committee had banned the usage of the word “London” by any brands but the catch here is that this particular “London” lies in the UK and there are 28 other locations all over the world named “London”. So, Nike shot its commercials in these locations very smartly and of course, legally used the word “London” in their commercials. Such an effective was this strategy that 37% of people in America came to believe that Nike was the official title sponsor of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

When Adidas had numerous athletes in the Olympics endorsing its Products, Nike while shooting in various locations of the world named “London” hired average teenagers as their ambassadors in their commercials. The commercial depicted the idea that though the limelight of the world was on the great athletes playing in the Olympics, there are countless “average” people living in “average” places, pushing them every day to become a better version of themselves. Greatness is a choice and these unknown “average” people have yet not given up on their desire to become great.

Nike did not endorse its product, instead, it endorsed an emotion. And as the saying goes that people never forget how you made them feel, this commercial broke the internet and Nike was trending at number one on YouTube while Adidas, the official sponsor of the 2012 Summer Olympics was at number three.