Category: Apparel, Footwear
In June 2014, Brazil was all set to host the 20th FIFA World Cup. With millions around the globe tuning in to follow the much-awaited spectacle, the sporting event would also be a big ticket item for global brands.
For a sporting giant like Nike, which was the official kit maker for 10 participating countries (including hosts Brazil), the FIFA World Cup would be the biggest platform to highlight the brand and its celebrity athletes.
There was just one stumbling block: Adidas has been the official FIFA sponsor for years, which included supplying the official match ball. While that put limitations on how Nike could associate with the Football World Cup, it wasn’t a showstopper.
Considering the inconvenient times of the matches for viewers in many parts of the world, the combination of growing on-demand services -- driven globally by mobile -- and Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ attitude made a difficult marketing challenge possible. With Nike’s help, consumers got more than just the action on the pitch.
Facebook and Twitter dominate the social media sphere and conversations concerning big football matches. Those conversations are predominantly post-analysis on Facebook, while pre-game and real-time game conversations tend to happen on Twitter. It is also easier for users to track and contribute to conversations that are already trending. Nike played with these insights and integrated the brand to make it a part of these football conversations. While creating a Twitter hashtag or promoting the Nike brand would have been easier, they wanted to create a much more meaningful engagement.
Since Nike wasn’t one of the official partners, the brand was not allowed to use any of the official hashtags or be part of conversations on the official Twitter platform, creating a giant hurdle to be overcome.
The core target market was football-obsessed male teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16 and 22. Research indicated that the audience was most active online on social networks and discussing the game – pre, during and post – was very important for both badge value and for the target to showcase their football know-how.
Nike got over its huge hurdle by finding a loophole. It could use third-party Twitter apps for a campaign; in India alone, those apps account for over 40 percent of Twitter mobile use. The third party apps allowed the brand to target real-time conversations, hashtags and the accounts of athletes and teams, which weren’t possible on the official Twitter app. To execute the campaign, Nike created a dynamic ad system synched to its targeting in the third-party Twitter apps which would serve dynamic brand communications based on the kind of conversations and hashtags that were being used, all in real time.
Nike started by mapping the Twitter handles of the athletes the brand sponsors – such as Cristiano Ronaldo. These accounts can boast thousands, if not millions of followers. This ensured reach and relevance when the brand targeted followers of these athlete accounts.
Moreover, Nike dug deeper with specific keywords to zero in on fans tweeting about matches and players. During these moments, “Risk Everything” banners on mobile would celebrate and remind fans of what their favorite teams and athletes were accomplishing at the World Cup. For top athletes, custom creative ran during their big match moments.
Nike's approach to the World Cup was mobile-first -- with every athlete, every hashtag and every team and topic having pre-defined creative ready to go at the right moment. This helped Nike own social conversations and put out contextual messaging which was very relevant to specific moments.
Creating a mobile solution that bridged dynamic ads and targeting on third-party Twitter apps was new and hadn’t been tested before the World Cup. This helped Nike steer clear of the official hashtags they couldn’t leverage and use Twitter in a way that hadn’t been before.
Pulling this off meant Nike had to screen for keywords and hashtags users were creating – and all in real time, keeping Nike relevant in any conversation. As the ads were pushed on third party apps, Nike needed an ad serving solution that would support the rich media content created for athletes.
Herea are the results of the campaign: