When rebrands go wrong

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Nike: ‘Digital more valuable than traditional’

Cannes 2012: Connecting with consumers using digital channels is more valuable and powerful to brands than anything that can be achieved with traditional marketing methods, according to Nike’s digital chief.


Speaking to Marketing Week at the Cannes Lions Festival of creativity, Nike’s vice president of digital sport Stefan Olander, says Nike created an “ecosystem” of digital services with digital fitness services Nike Plus and Silver Cyber Lion winner at Cannes Fuel Band that complement its product range and encourage consumers to connect with the brand daily.

In doing so, Nike has built a marketing strategy into a business strategy, according to Olander.

He adds: “Nike Plus was an experiment, but good marketing is solving things for people, making things easier and helping people get better at what they want to do. If that works, you can turn it into a service, when it becomes a service it becomes a component of your business.

“When you have millions of people that come back and reconnect with your brand multiple times a week, your realise that that connection is more valuable and powerful than any traditional pushed marketing messages.”

Fuel Band allows users to connect to mobile and computer devices to measure, track and share their fitness levels launched in the US in January. It was followed by a London launch in May and now has 7 million users. Nike plans it roll it out worldwide shortly.

Presenting to delegates at the industry event, Olander said: “In classic marketing, buying the product is the end of the relationship. The thinking has completely shifted so that the purchase of any Nike product needs to be the beginning if the relationship. [with Nike Plus] we created a link stronger that anything we could ever say in our communications.”

Nike fell foul of the advertising regulator earlier this week over a Twitter campaign with Wayne Rooney. It was ruled the activity was not clearly marked a marketing communication.

Readers' comments (1)

  • So, Stefan Olander is at it again.  When will people with the word ‘digital’ in their job title stop talking down ‘traditional’ advertising and acting as though there is some sort of competition going on between the two?  At least it’s fractionally less objectionable than his recent piece in Wired entitled ‘A public announcement: advertising is over’. I blogged about that here http://bit.ly/KWj9Ki.

    Of course it’s wonderful that a brand like Nike can create connections with and services for people via online and mobile channels.  But they aren’t conjured out of thin air.  If we put the Kool Aid down for a moment and look at how advertising actually works, then ‘traditional’ advertising (by which I assume he means anything that isn’t online) is the thing that has built, nurtures and sustains the incredible Nike brand. Nike is a world class traditional advertiser – could this in some way be connected to its online successes?  Many pieces of research would suggest so.  I reckon Wieden & Kennedy probably think that their fabulous advertising has contributed to consumers wanting to have a conversation with Nike in the first place.

    There is also plenty of evidence to show that a brand can’t afford to communicate only with those people who want to have a relationship with it.  It’s not the way to grow – or even maintain - your market share. Common sense tells us that too.

    There’s a great deal more mutual respect between online and offline these days, thank goodness.  Anyone who heard Dick Costolo in Cannes will have heard about the wonderful symbiosis between TV and Twitter and there are plenty of other examples.  I look forward to Stefan getting on board the ‘and’ not the ‘or’ train.

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