Profile: Jeremy Gilley

The man marketing world peace

Nike launches 'London' campaign

Nike has unveiled a campaign featuring amateur athletes “finding their greatness” in places called London across the world, activity that is likely to raise eyebrows at official Olympic sponsor and fierce rival Adidas.

The Wieden + Kennedy created TV campaign sees rowers, baseball players, runners, wrestlers and rugby players competing in towns called London in Canada, Ohio and Nigeria among others.

Although the campaign does not appear to break any rules designed to protect the investment of sponsors, the timing of the launch of the campaign – two days before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games – and the references to London are likely to fuel the debate on ambush marketing.

Adidas has paid millions to declare an official association with the Olympic movement in its marketing. According to most surveys, however, Nike are more closely associated with the Olympics than Adidas among consumers.

Nike had been using Olympic hopefuls such as Mo Farrah and Paula Radcliffe in its Make It Count activity. However, a law preventing non-sponsors from using competing athletes in campaigns came into effect last week (16 July).

A Nike spokesman insists no rules have been breached. “Our ad was submitted and cleared by the UK advertising authorities.  We believe it represents the idea that greatness can be found in anyone, anywhere, and using locations called London around the world at the time people are focusing on London in the UK is a way to emphasise that point.”

An outdoor and press campaign features amateur sportsmen and women “finding their greatness” in uncelebrated places away from sports arenas. One execution features a tennis player and the line “greatness doesn’t only exist in SW19”, a reference to Wimbledon.

Readers' comments (4)

  • I dont see the problem, i think this is a fantastic example of being as competitive as possible whithin the rules and after all this Olympics is for everyone not just london...

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  • Ingenious creativity should be applauded. And this is one of those moments. I don't condone Rip offs in any market, but keeping to the laws/rules, yet finding intricate gaps and making intriguing use of them is surely ingenuity. Congratulations Nike & your agency.

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  • Nike have been excellent at ambushing but remaining on the right side of the law (regardless of the debate of being overly stringent) for years, but especially with football, where again Adidas is the main sponsor of the major tournaments yet Nike seem to get all attention by inventively cutting through clutter. Well done - marketing at its best.

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  • Brilliant guerilla marketing. Adidas could learn from it!!!!

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