How Nike Missed The Mark On Digital

How Nike Missed The Mark On Digital

Nike may be the brand held up by pretty much every marketer, but as Web Profits‘ digital marketing consultant, Tam Al-Saad (pictured below), says in this guest post, when it comes to digital, the sports behemoth still needs to just “do it”…

By now you should have seen or heard of the Nike “Dream Crazy” campaign. It’s the one that caused some controversy for featuring Colin Kaepernick, an outspoken American Football player and campaigner for social justice. It’s been huge in the US and in the advertising industry across the world.


I think it could have been executed better…

First and foremost, I want to say that I think the ad is terrific. It’s motivating, it’s inspiring, it tells a story and really evokes a response. It speaks to their target audience and helped build their brand not only now, but for years to come.

It’s also done a great job at increasing sales with a reported 31 per cent increase in the days following the release of the TV commercial. But, I think it could have been a lot higher

So what’s the problem?

Well, while the ad itself is faultless, I’ve been surprised by Nike’s lack of follow up of the message through digital channels.

Here’s how the search volume for the brand name has trended over the last 5 years, you can see an absolutely HUGE boost around the time of the ad launching. That’s great, right?

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 1.24.15 pm

I thought so too. But then I checked out Nike’s website – with the location set to the US. Notice how there’s no mention at all of the “dream crazy” or “sacrifice everything” slogan on their home page?

nike 2

I clicked around to try and find it. In the men’s section, it’s the 3rd banner down, way below the fold. On the women’s section, it doesn’t appear until the 7th banner, despite the ad featuring Serena Williams, one of the most dominant figures in sport, let alone women’s sport. And it doesn’t feature at all on the kids’ section.

I guess you could say: “So what? They got a potential customer to the website and it’s a good site and iconic brand so they’ll probably buy something”. I think that misses the mark.

Customers don’t make purchasing decisions quickly, it’s all about their journey. In my opinion, the journey starts brilliantly with an emotive ad, but when they then visit the site and don’t see the same message that brought them there, then the journey is interrupted. And that’s never a good thing. The more seamless the journey is, the more successful the campaign will be.

After looking at their site, I decided to check out their Social Media channels. They did a good job of translating the campaign to Twitter with this thread on the day of the release, and have since followed it up with marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge and Tiger Woods. They also posted the video and a couple of stills on Instagram and have seen some great engagement.

But what about the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook? I was really shocked to see that they hadn’t posted anything about the campaign on Facebook at all. So I used Facebook’s info and ads feature to check out what kind of ads they’ve been running and despite there being plenty of them, not one was about the campaign.

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 1.29.18 pm

Everyone is talking about Nike at the moment, having a Facebook ad with a link to their site capitalises on this and means they’re not relying on the customer to remember to look them up. It’s great that they’re running conversion focused ads, but if those ads aligned with the offline campaign I would expect them to be a lot more successful. With all the data Nike must have, they could have created ads for each of their range of products with the campaign message running throughout. In my opinion, this is a huge missed opportunity, and one I’m surprised to see from such a big brand.

My last criticism is a geographic one. The U.S. is one of Nike’s largest markets and so it makes sense that the focus was there, but this ended up being a global campaign due to its controversy and popularity. So let’s go back to their website and take a look at what they’re displaying in different countries.

There’s no reference to it at all on the English speaking countries websites like Australia, Canada or the UK. Why? The stories in the campaign are universal and relatable to people regardless of location. The celebrities they feature are global, everyone knows Serena Williams. So why not leverage that in other markets?

I appreciate that campaigns of this scale are very difficult to orchestrate in one country, let alone across different teams, borders, and languages, but Nike’s message in this campaign is to dream big and dream crazy so perhaps they should take a leaf out of their own book.

Nike is a huge brand and this campaign has had the reach that most companies can only dream of, but there are three key lessons regardless of the size of the company you work for.

  • Firstly, if you’re going to run an advertising campaign, make sure that your website aligns with it in order to make the customer journey as seamless as possible.
  • Secondly, ensure that your advertising across platforms centres around the campaign theme in order to get the most out of it.
  • And lastly, make sure to leverage the campaigns across all the regions you operate in, to maximise the return on the initial investment of creating the campaign.

This campaign from Nike hit the mark on so many levels, and will likely go down as one of the most memorable in recent times. But by neglecting some of the digital elements, I believe it makes a simple mistake which could have made it even more successful.

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Nike Tam Al-Saad

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