Branding Guide

The 10 most compelling Nike print adverts responsible for its brand recognition

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Nike is the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel in addition to being a major manufacturer of sports equipment. Nike sells an assortment of products from shoes for outdoor activities to clothing for recreational uses. Nike as a brand is in demand by the Chav Culture and Hip hop culture, specifically its urban fashion clothing line. The company has a notable presence in almost every sport venue, with many famous sports figures supporting the brand. Recently, the company worked with Apple Inc. to create the Nike+ product, a monitoring device that gauges a runner’s performance. Nike has always been interested in promoting sporting excellence and ideals and organizing major sporting events.

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The focus of its marketing and advertising strategy is primarily about building brand image of an intense, motivated competitor. Hence, the ads are concentrated not on the product but on the person wearing the product. By employing personalities that inspire hero worship among consumers, Nike creates an appeal that stemmed from the desire to emulate heroes. Nike has forged its identity with advertising in all forms of media, conceptualizing captivating ads with cutting edge graphic design, punchy slogans and admirable faces. The following are a list of the top print ads that have propelled Nike to the top and increased its sales.

1. Nike ‘Just Do It’ Campaign

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Nike developed the campaign to take advantage of the fitness craze of the 1980s. The campaigns demanded people to exercise, practically it was a challenge to exercise with Nike shoes. The commercial was about selling the durability and quality of Nike products.The idea, which Nike implanted was that exercising in its shoes was an exciting activity, and consumers who did so were considered cool. Nike created a hip character about the shoes so even those who did not exercise desired them. For Nike, it is their defining slogan and has attracted fans and customers over the period of time. This advert has motivated their fans to strive to be their exemplary selves.

2. Nike Italy ads 

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Nike celebrated Italy’s victory in the 2006 World Cup by unveiling specially designed print advertisements within the Italian market. The agency Wieden & Kennedy created a series of posters that resembled a variety of classical Italian advertising posters from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. They also illustrated Nike sponsored players in caricatures of iconic Italian products. The posters were also marked with the tagline ‘produit en Italie’, which is French sentence that means ‘Made in Italy”. A subtle taunt at the French for Italy’s win.

In the ad, a likeness of Mr. Cannavaro promotes a not quite known gelato brand with a tagline “the envy of the world”. It signifies the memorable moment when Mr. Cannavaro, the Italian team captain raised the World Cup trophy.

3. Nike ‘hello’ advert

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A startling poster by Nike welcomed English fans and rivals for the finals of the Six Nations ruby match 2010. Inferring to the 100-year long rivalry between France and England’s rugby teams, the word “Hello” was stitched over a fresh wound. It symbolized the aim of the French team towards the English, to send them home with bruises. Graphic and forceful, it was intended to psyche the opposing team.

4. Nike Laser campaign 

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Nike revealed four amazing sports shoes made from new improved laser technology. To capture the public’s attention, the outline of the shoes and copy were engraved into a metallic plate. A red glow illuminated the lines for a marvelous effect. Many people have likened the billboard to urban art display.

5.Nike ‘Write the Future’ campaign

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Nike’s World Cup Campaign unveiled ads that were eye catching in their display of iconic football moments. Under the tagline “write the future”, the objective of the campaign was to highlight pivotal moments that Nike was a ‘forever’ brand for the player and the game. The advert revolved around one defining moment emerging from a strategic pass or one strong strike. Top soccer players stared in these print ads, namely Rooney, Ronaldo, Ribery, Drogba and Robinho. Their statues, brilliantly attractive, represent their long life as the monumental figures, capable of accomplishing great feats.

6. Nike cleats

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Dick’s sporting goods joined with Nike to advertise The Nike Zoom Vapor Carbon Fly Cleats. Nike wanted to underline the best features of the product and give a reason for consumers to buy them. Tapping into a basic consumer need to perform better than the competition and excel to demonstrate their physical prowess, this advert was one of the best from Nike. In this ad it is stated that the wearer can customize the shoes to their liking, showing off their personality. The tagline, ‘When the shoes get lighter, the moves get tighter’ further drives the message of self motivated success with swoosh across.

7. Nike Men vs Women Challenge 

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Nike sponsored an official challenge between men and women with their special site NikePlus.com. Nike tracked the number of kilometer run by men and women in the official challenge using Nike+ system. For this purpose they designed a very colorful and sporty advert which featured a tag line ‘make every run count’. This tagline helped Nike to boost the adrenaline rush in people and participate in the challenge.

8. Nike’s ‘Paper Battlefield’ 

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This campaign won the Cannes Design Grand Prix. Paper Battlefield is a series of posters created by teenage stars of the Nike Basketball League, who also starred in the posters. It captured the energy and intensity of the basketball competition in addition to promoting the competitive spirit of the game. Players custom made the poster designs through the process of silk screening the images on top of one another in different combinations, staying true to the idea that the posters were the battlefield. The campaign was lauded at the competition for its simplicity, innovation and attractiveness. Most praised was bestowed on the poster’s culture spanning communication power.

8. Nike’s Gone Running Campaign

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The campaign launched Nike’s apparel and was geared towards expounding women’s athletic aptitude and multitasking skills. The crux of the ad was girl power, women who took time to work on their bodies. Stating that women have an on-the-go mentality, but still halted their busy 9-5 schedule to don running clothes and pound the pavement. The Nike’s female footwear campaign has the essential Nike touch to make it appealing, a ‘gone running’ sign, a real time clock and a striking copy yelling ‘someone who is busier than you is running right now.’

9. Nike 10K human race 

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The atmosphere broadcasted the seriousness and focused drive of the participants of the Nike sponsored human race. In this commercial cars are on the side as the road is free for the ambitious participants who want to overtake the large crowd for glory. Simplistic yet expressive, the advert captures the feelings of the race.

10. Nike ‘Not without a fight’

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Created for the England rugby team during the 2008 Rugby World Cup to convey their strong resolution to putting up a fight to keep their title. Bold font and capital letters stresses the importance of the speech and gives readers the impression that they are screaming their defiance. Embedded words like ‘tackle’ and ‘Scrum’ in the copy in a different and more prominent size, attracts rugby fans as such jargon is exclusive to the game.

Dr Prem Jagyasi (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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