Product: Kobe 11 Elite Low FTB shoes
Category: Apparel, Footwear
Award Entry Year: 2016
Kobe Bryant is one of the most celebrated and talented athletes in NBA history. So when he announced his retirement date, it was up to Nike, his long-time partner in the game, to make sure the occasion was memorable. April 13 became “Mamba Day,” a celebration of the Kobe legacy -- victories, controversies and all.
The global campaign for Mamba Day focused on the love/hate relationship basketball fans had with Kobe during his career. But the context in China was very different, as the perception of the ball player was overwhelmingly positive, even for non-fans. Amongst basketball players, Kobe is revered for his skill. But even people who have never watched a basketball game in their lives know his name.
Razorfish wanted to lead the Kobe retirement conversation in China by making it relevant. Instead of a one-off campaign, the agency sought to extend Kobe’s legacy with high engagement in digital and social channels.
Nike is one of the most popular global sports brands in China, which it considers its fastest-growing region. It has over 10 percent share of the market, and is well poised for consolidating its position. However, it does face keen competition from other fitness brands, both global players such as Adidas and Under Armour, and local companies such as Li Ning.
One of its key strategies is to tie itself indisputably to basketball, which is growing into the most popular sport in China.
Nike Basketball represents the future of the game, and it’s unstoppable ability to inspire, empower and fulfill the dreams of a new generation of players. Its target audience is especially 17-23 year olds who are discovering a love for the game itself.
The mobile execution was part of an overall campaign to connect fans with the legacy of Kobe on Mamba Day. The team launched the sticker set on April 14, on the day that Kobe’s last game would be broadcast in China. During the game, Tencent’s sports livestream broadcasters mentioned the sticker set and encouraged fans to download it.
The campaign team also leveraged the Kobe fan community to organically promote the stickers, choosing nine of the most popular Kobe fan blogs and three favored media outlets to get early access the stickers, which were tied it to the release of the Kobe 11 Elite Low FB. The full budget for this portion of the campaign was allocated to mobile, a key component of the larger campaign involving several different agencies covering Kobe’s retirement.
The idea was to take Mamba Day to where Nike Basketball’s Chinese audience already were: on WeChat, China’s most popular social mobile platform with over 500 million active users.
How to make Kobe’s image accessible to this audience? Noting the popular behavior of using emojis to express various daily emotions, the plan was to develop an exclusive Kobe Mamba Day Kobe-moji sticker set - - with creative input from Razorfish, the Nike digital brand team and Kobe himself. To make the most impact, emoji’s were chosen to represent Kobe’s attitude and catchphrases, while also non-intrusively promoting Nike’s limited edition Kobe 11 Elite Low FTB shoes, made especially for his retirement, and which he wore on to the court for his last game.
There were Kobe catchphrases and famous on-court actions, including several that captured his spirit for talking smack. Stickers included Chinese meme expressions, such as “No Zuo No Die” - (meaning, “if you never do anything dumb, it won’t bite you in the ass.”) as well as the new Kobe 11 shoes. The promotion was focused on two channels: China’s exclusive Tencent NBA game live stream, and WeChat.
The Kobe-moji sticker sets were housed under WeChat’s official sticker gallery; each was an animated gif that allowed for an expression of a very Kobe-esque emotion - from three-pointers and buzzer beaters to his signature jersey-grabbing poses. The sticker set and the way it was used could have only been executed in a social mobile platform such as WeChat. And the timing enabled it to be used just as people were celebrating the moments of Kobe’s victorious retirement game.
The Kobe-moji sticker set was a simple but incredibly creative idea to lengthen fan engagement with both Kobe Bryant and Nike long after his final basketball win. The campaign exceeded Nike’s key KPI’s. Since Mamba Day, over 130,000 people have downloaded the Kobe mojis sticker set, which have been used in chat over 1.25 million times. Kobe-mojis became a trending sticker set on the WeChat platform for the week after Kobe's retirement. Consumers were incredibly excited to use Kobe to express their emotions -- even three months after the sticker tie-in event ended, fans were logging about 1,000 usages per day.
It also helped the agency develop further trust with the Nike digital team in partnering and releasing Nike creative content onto other social media platforms in the China market.