Nike is run by marketing geniuses. Or it’s something to do with Wieden+Kennedy, their brilliant ad/creative agency.
In my favourite digital marketing thing of the year, they took over phoneboxes across London, and challenged people to run between them. Faster and further than their neighbours. It was all done by postcode, so it was all hyperlocal. And it happened over a 24hr period – runners got a code that they bashed into every phone box they ran to, and every run was logged online. Badges were awarded for running between postcodes, running furthest, running fastest, and points were tallied live on NikeGrid.com. After 24 hrs, the champion of each postcode was announced. Both on the website, but also on local electronic billboards.
(Flickr credit: Birdsigh)
It was genius. It was like being in some weird secret society, where you knew you were up against other people, but didn’t know who they were. They were rivals, but cos you were both doing this faintly underground challenge, they were comrades. It was all managed digitally, but it took place in the real world – racing down London streets rather than sitting in front of a monitor. It’s like one of those massively multi-player online games, but not online.
And now NikeGrid is running again. This time they’ve added the option to run as a team (London university students will lap this up) and instead of 24hrs, it’s 15 days.
All of the ‘Grid’ stuff is branded and designed beautifully: underground, gritty, urban etc. Check out their hexagonal honeycomb-style map of London below (given out to those who ran last time – keeping the ‘club’ thing going). It’s a pretty long way from the Nike that sponsors giant football teams or puts great cinema ads together. This hits a real active audience in a way that they want to join in.
The other clever thing is that you have to sign up through Facebook, which of course means “You irrevocably grant NIKE, its group companies and third party commercial partners the right indefinitely and throughout the world, without any expectation of compensation, further permissions or notifications to: (i) use your photograph, video or film portrayal, image, likeness, voice and any other means which identify you”.
Ah, good times. Privacy is dead. Long live Facebook.