I live a few miles from Nike World Headquarters just outside of Portland, Oregon. So Nike is a frequent subject of conversation around here and sometimes we take for granted the brilliance of what they do on the global stage. Recently, there was no stage more imposing than the London
Olympics where Nike was not an Olympic sponsor but had to rely on ambush marketing to gain visibility and project its brand. If you saw any of the Olympics, then you will agree that it was near impossible to miss the neon shoes worn by 400 of the world’s best track and field athletes. That was the brilliant work of Martin Lotti and his team at Nike.
Lotti, Nike's global creative director for the Olympics, told Creativity that his role was to focus on the Nike products that 3,000 Olympic athletes wear on and off the field, from design to deployment. Painting Nike's Flyknit shoe Volt, as that vivid neon-green-meets-highlighter-yellow color is called, was Mr. Lotti's way to create a kind of "Team Nike." Before London 2012, the company matched the color of the shoe to the color of the individual athlete's uniforms. It looked pretty, but it blended in. This year, hundreds of athletes across different national federations wore the same color, what Mr. Lotti called "the easiest way" to make a splash. This approach further underscored for me the power of simplicity and how it can cut through to make brands memorable and effective.
In the same article Mr. Lotti said he believes good Nike products have four elements: (i) performance, (ii) emotion (a Team USA insignia over the heart, for example), (iii) environment, and (iv) aesthetics. It really struck me that these are among the key elements that we always encourage our clients to address through their own brand management. This led me to consider, “What if Nike took over the branding and marketing of a city like yours”? What do you think would happen?