And the Gold Goes To…by Kim Sokolnicki on August 7, 2012
Oh, the Olympics…man do I love these games! Ever since the 1992 games in Barcelona, I’ve been hooked. As someone who normally spends her weekends hiking, camping and exploring; every four years you can find me at home, on my couch, glued to my TV watching the best of the best battle it out for the championship title. But it’s not just athletes who compete – the Olympics are also a battleground for marketers trying to help their brand shine on the global stage.
After watching Michael Phelps make Olympic history and cheering on Team USA to a gold in women’s gymnastics, I’m now hooked on track and field. Now remember, I said my first great Olympic memories came from the ’92 games. Anyone remember Dan and Dave? If you’re over 30 of course you do! Reebok ran a $30 million ad campaign comparing the top two American decathlon contestants. What’s a decathlon you ask? Doesn’t matter. According to Reebok it was the ultimate Olympic event and the winner was deemed “Greatest Athlete in the World!”
The commercials ran for the eight months prior to the events (beginning in January) building up to what they believed would be the best rival of the games. Dan and Dave were, of course, both favorites to win the gold. A brilliant plan, except Dan failed to even make it to the games after choking in the high jump in the Olympic qualifier. Dave managed to get the bronze, but it was not the gold he or Madison Ave was expecting.
Even if the ’92 games mocked Reebok’s commercials, they did fling the Reebok Pump into commercial success. But this year, it’s all about Nike. If you’ve watched the games you know what I’m talking about. It seems like every single runner is wearing the same neon yellow Nike shoes. A bit of Google research will inform you that’s because Nike gave them away to many of the top athletes and Olympic teams.
The genius is in the color. The neon yellow covering the athletes’ feet make it annoyingly obvious that they’re all the same shoe—the Nike Liberty x. Nike used the same technique with all the podium shoes for Team USA—the Nike FlyKnit Trainer+. You really can’t miss them (or the black Nike swoosh on them), even if you’re watching the games (like me) on your tiny mobile devices and computers.
The best part is that these shoes leverage some of Nike’s greatest sustainability innovations including 100% green rubber for the Liberty’s sole and single-construction design that reduces waste for the FlyKnit Trainer. But we expect nothing less coming from one of the most sustainable companies in the world.
So now for the big question: when it comes to shoe companies marketing at the Olympics (that are also sustainable), who takes the gold? Does it go to Reebok, who introduced the decathlon to America by putting all their eggs into a single $30 million dollar tv commercial basket? Or to Nike, whose integrated campaign included very little TV advertising, lots of product giveaways and the strategic decision to make their new shoes come in a single, highly visible color?
It’s no contest. In my opinion, this year Nike is yet again the champion. And if they continue innovating around sustainability, I think it’s safe to say they’ll be around and winning for a while.
Nike, you’re simply irresistible!