Nike: Not just another sports brand.

20th May 2019

written by Lissie Archer

A brand that is dominating the world of  content marketing right now is the notorious Nike Inc; the world’s largest athletic footwear and clothing brand. Over 55 years, Nike is risen to become a shining example of a brand that has it all; market share, $34 billion yearly revenue, contracts with world renowned sportsmen, factories in over 40 countries and selling worldwide in over 170. Nike is doing phenomenally well and shows no sign of slowing down.  Competition is fierce in this space, with brands like Adidas, Puma and New Balance all taking their slice of the market however, something about Nike and its strategy has placed them at the top of the playing field and has kept them from being overtaken or outshined. So what is it that makes Nike different?

 

Founded in Oregon in 1964 by young entrepreneur Phil Knight, Nike started off as a reseller of Japanese running shoes selling to well known sports brands across the US. Knight wrote a paper before the inception of Nike called “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?” After that Knight went on to create the company Blue Ribbon Sports, which we now know today as Nike Inc. Hard work, luck and determination were not the only forces that turned Nike into a world leading manufacturer of sportswear but also a superb and unique marketing strategy, one that encouraged people to think differently about athletic footwear and oozed the “Just Do It” mentality.

 

Nike has been a brand that always challenges the boundaries of sport, sportswear and athletic principles. So much so that today Nike is worn and bought by billions of people around the world who aren’t even interested in sports. They decided early on that their products would be constantly redesigned and reimagined with their customers in mind, pushing the traditional running shoes as far as they could using crazy inventions like waffle machines to design the soles. Very soon Nike became less about the shoes and more about fitness. They didn’t want to sell you a shoe but instead a mantra of being fit, active and staying healthy. Their shoes were sold as a way to stay in shape but the fact that they were comfy to run in and more stylish to look at was a bonus. Nike very quickly became the fitness brand selling a way of life, an image, a feeling and a lifestyle – their customers and audience then became the most important thing to the business.

 

So, in the 21st century what is it that Nike offers us that makes them so irresistible? To reach their new, digitally savvy audience, Nike put a lot of attention into their content creation, focusing on their social media channels and video production. Through their brilliant use of advertising Nike offers all generations, gender and races across the world this feeling of empowerment and energy. Their marketing strategy is to empower people through uplifting videos, advertisements that ooze culture, social freedom and restraints, fashion trends, lifestyle trends, opinions, messages and love. They test the limits of our personality by being so in tune with the world and providing their customers with a release, a safe place and the feeling that they are not alone. They now produce regular video content that speaks effortlessly to their customers through strong, moving and engaging storytelling. 

“Walk With Love” – Represent Love

 

Nike BETRUE – Nobody Wins Alone

 

“MILES” Joan Benoit Samuelson

 

For a long time now Nike has slowly started to reduce the production of TV adverts and instead focus on video content for their YouTube channel. Understanding that marketing in the digital age is changing, Nike decided that the quickest and most effective way to reach their audiences and customers with detailed, meaningful and relevant content was through online video. They dropped their TV and print advertising spend by 40% between 2010 and 2012 – but increased their overall marketing budget to $2.4 billion in 2012 (Fortune). This marketing strategy in itself shows that Nike as a brand that follows the people, listens to trends and adapts instantly to the changes in culture. TV advertising spend dropped substantially in the last few years because traditional TV viewing has also massively declined. Instead, video streaming and viewing has become a lot more selective, personal and intimate, and because of online streaming it has become hugely accessible and people prefer to binge watch shows at their leisure. YouTube is the second most used site after google (Alexa) and users view more than 1 billion hours of videos each day (YouTube).

 

Nike speak to their audiences on their terms. They provide customers with personalisation, the ability to design their own shoes, content to watch that reflects their attitudes, opinions and lifestyles, not to mention the endless creation of new styles, clothes and shoes that constantly hit our high streets and allow its customers to always feel original and stay excited and passionate about Nike. What is their marketing strategy? It’s to give the people what they want with the utmost time, attention to detail and uncompromising quality whether that’s clothes, experiences or content. 

Of all the brands nailing content marketing right now, arguably Red Bull is the undisputed leader. These guys have transcended from being a single product, Thai replicated energy drink brand, into a world renowned and globally acknowledged publisher of media, TV, print and film. From their up-to-date Youtube channel, to their television broadcasting, sponsoring some of the world’s most famous sporting events and having their own Sky Channel, to magazine publications, journalism, radio channels and lastly, creating high-end documentary films. They are doing it all and they have us gripped. But how?! And what’s the secret to their success?

Red Bull was launched in Austria back in 1987 by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz after a visit to Thailand where he found the energy drink Krating Daeng. At that point, the idea of a carbonated energy drink in Europe had not been heard of nor thought about and the launch of Red Bull not only signified the beginning of a new product but also the beginning of a whole new drinks category. Now, Red Bull has the highest market share of any energy drink product in the world and sells almost 7 billion cans every year worldwide (wiki).

How, I hear you say? Red Bull found their audience and customers very early on. In 1988 Red Bull sponsored their first ever sporting event “The Red Bull Dolomitenmann” one of the toughest relays on the planet. They discovered that the extreme sporting industry depended a lot on the adrenaline, energy and excitement of all people involved, and that their product was perfectly suited for this type of audience, thus finding their “niche” and their ideal customers. They then began to market the absolute sh*t out of it, making a name for themselves in the extreme sporting industry and soon becoming the thrilling epitome of youth and sporting culture that we know them as today. Red Bull got their logo out wherever they could, on TV and at extreme sporting events, and promoted their energy drink to sporting athletes who would then promote the Red Bull brand. Not long after inception Red Bull had lift off. They already had 100% market share because no other energy drink had been launched in Europe at that time, so they were very exclusive and therefore very desirable. Soon, they were not just seen as a drinks brand but as a culture and lifestyle brand.

Red Bull now own multiple sports teams across the world in Europe, USA and Brazil. They sponsor incredible sporting events from Formula 1 to the Snowboarding Olympics, work with hundreds of famous athletes, have their own Red Bull sporting businesses like Red Bull Cliff Diving and, own two F1 Teams. They even have their own track racing game on Playstation 3. It’s safe to say that they have killed it! People follow them for their content and updates on their activities like a subscription for a streaming service. They have 8 million subscribers on YouTube, 11.1 million Instagram followers, 48 million likes on Facebook and 2 million followers on Twitter. Their videos on YouTube get ½ million views at least with their most viewed videos standing at 101.4 million, 44 million and 41 million.

The secret strategy? Well let’s start with Red Bull’s audience. They know their audience intimately and always put them first. Quite simply, Red Bull from start to finish have always put their customers at the heart of their business and focus on making content that they know their customers are going to enjoy. It’s not just about filming, sponsoring or hosting sporting events. For Red Bull it’s about creating moments and experiences they can share with their audience that are really exciting and very unique. They film TV content like this Red Bull Signature Series, host events like these every year, and make them accessible to everyone and anyone.

They film documentaries for their YouTube channel like “The Fearless Swedish Free-rider” that are interesting and enjoyable to watch by anyone.

But, their most popular content is stunt videos like the “Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Freefall” or their most viewed video from the free running series “Last Call for Mr Paul”.

Red Bull constantly go above and beyond (quite literally) and create content that is not only mind blowingly brilliant but also better than most of the content produced by major publishing organisations. By putting their customers first and listening to their audiences, they have become the most talked about brand of our generation. Where their customers go they go, from music festivals, concerts, art shows, to reporting on the latest and trending sports, skate parks to mountain biking, free-running in car parks and paint-balling – they’ve been everywhere and they’ve done it all!

Red Bull’s marketing strategy is to sell an experience, not a product, and this is something that any business or brand can do. Creating content that is for your customer and puts the audience first is a strategy that can work for any business. There are many other brands out there that have started to adopt this Red Bull method and become publishers instead of just selling “products”. Volvo is one such brand. They created a documentary series on Youtube titled Human Made Stories: Defiant Pioneers which features 5 episodes that look into different human stories like this one titled “Nemo Gardens”, about a man in Italy building an underwater farm.

Patagonia very quickly established themselves as a publisher on YouTube, uploading interviews, documentaries, short films and long films about the planet, sustainability and people. Patagonias Workwear series on YouTube has 27 videos and is still being updated today with new videos, these feature interviews with people who wear Patagonias workwear as part of their jobs.

Nike is another brand that is identified through their content. Yes they sell shoes but they also share experiences and promote a certain identity. Their YouTube channel also has a lot of documentary content going up onto it that is interesting to watch, like this Alex Roca Campillo – Dream Crazier which has 1.3M views.

More and more brands are implementing Red Bulls strategy, becoming publishers and creating video content for use online. However, no brand has or is doing better than them. They nailed this part of their marketing very early on and have set the tone for any brand to follow and replicate. But, looking at all the brands out there that are following suit, is a good sign that the Red Bull strategy is one that works. For businesses that aren’t implementing this strategy we would suggest starting small and working your way up to it. Start with some customer testimonials or behind the scene footage of your business and factory, documenting the way you do things and the way your products are made. Just get your content out there to the customers that want to listen and see how they respond. 

If you want to know more about audience first content you can read our blog: What is Audience-First Content?

If you want to know more about audience first video content and documentary filming you can visit our other blogs:
How Brands Can Use Documentary Style Video in Content Marketing.  

Blurred Lines. How Branded Content is Transforming Traditional Broadcasting. 

 

7th January 2020 - Big Tips, Tips & Tricks

Video is the Medium of Our Time: 7 Vital Stats

25th November 2019 - Big Tips

Video Testimonials: Marketing Rocket Fuel

29th July 2019 - Big Tips, Food and Drink

Is your food or drink brand summer ready?

27th June 2019 - B2B, Big Tips

Nike: Not just another sports brand.

20th May 2019 - Big Tips, Food and Drink

Red Bull: Kings of content marketing

5th June 2019 - Big Tips, Education

How can Schools use Digital Advertising

16th May 2019 - Big Tips, Education

5 Types of Video to Tell your School Story