Nike prove the motto of good advertising – Just do it.

May 26, 2008

The advertising for Nike is one of the examples of a campaign that very, very rarely lets you down. Almost everything they do is perfect for the moment. They have great creative people working on the account, who are given time and encouragement to come up with a brilliant solution.
Sure there are ads that you don’t rate, and ads that don’t resonate with you. But with Nike they are very few and far between.
Here’s one of the first Nike ads that I remember seeing and thinking “That’s cool”.

They also have a way of buying up all the best talent in a given market place (think Ronaldinho, Tiger, Michael Jordan, Ronaldo etc).
When they ran this next ad, I was just starting to watch basketball on Channel 4 with Mark Webster hosting. Thanks to a Chicago Bulls team, including MJ and Scottie Pippen, that destroyed all they faced I was soon watching basketball regularly.

If you’ve never seen Michael Jordan on a court go and buy a DVD. I seriously considered flying from Scotland to the USA just to watch him play one game, and then fly home again. That’s how special a talent he was. It was like he had divine intervention, everything he touched turned to dunks and 3 pointers from way down town. He is a true legend of sport. Read a bit about just how special he was here.

Then there was the time when Eric Cantona signed for Manchester United and became Eric the Red. Nike used the situation to their advantage very well indeed. There’s a lovely little twist to the headline that gives the reader a warm feeling when they unravel what the headline is saying.

And then, after Eric’s slight problem when he was banned for mistaking a fan’s head for the ball, Nike still managed to turn a negative into a positive. And I think Eric benefited from the positive spin on the headline too.

And they also know how to do some fantastic ambient ideas. Like this one. It’s for a pro-running campaign that tries to get people to leave the car and jog, or even walk, instead.

But the scary thing is not the number of great ads that I’ve been able to show you here, but the number of outstanding ads that I haven’t shown as it would be the longest blog entry in history if I tried to show all their great ads.
So, finally, here’s their latest offering. It’s a TV and cinema ad, which has been shot by Guy Ritchie. And it’s a beauty. It makes you feel that you’re right there on the pitch with them. It tells the story of a player’s rise from lower league football (Airdrie United and James Grady?) to playing for Arsenal and Holland. This allows them to show ‘you’ getting dumped on your ass by Ronaldo, being kissed by a not-unattractive young lady, training hard to make the grade, and celebrating scoring a great goal.

You can watch the Director’s Cut version here.

I’d go so far as to argue that the history of Nike advertising could tell us a lot about the world we live in, and how it has changed over the years. I’ll almost certainly show you more Nike ads as the blog progresses. But for now, I’ll doff my metaphorical cap in the general direction of all those smart and lucky enough to have worked on the account. And keep my fingers crossed that I get to work on the advertising equivalent of winning the National Lottery at some point.

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