Content marketing is one of the biggest buzz phrases of the moment, with many people talking about it as if it’s a new phenomenon. The fact that The Guinness Book of Records will be 60 years old next year should put paid to that suggestion — but so, too, should the creative work put out by Nike, which has consistently shown that great marketing is great content. And, they’re still doing it now.
PHOTOiD is a new mash-up Nike has created that allows you to use an Instagram photo to inspire a pair of personalised Nike iD trainers. It’s built in HTML5, is lovely to look at, is intrinsically linked to social platforms, and produces great user-inspired content for people to share. And, most importantly, its hero is the product.
What Nike has done, in this case, is brilliantly understood a number of the key trends driving audience behaviours, such as the creative self-promotion that the likes of Twitter and Instagram encourage and celebrate, and turned those into what is, at heart, an ad. The key is that that it adds value as much as it advertises.
In hindsight, we can see that Nike has been doing this for years. In many ways; PHOTOiD is an evolution of the original Nike iD iPhone app, which allowed people to take photos and use them as the inspiration for their shoes.
Meanwhile, Nike+ creates content out of people’s activities, then turns that content into something that acts as social currency. Their commercials have long been short movies rather than simple TV ads; for instance, the track recorded by Kanye West in honour of the 25th anniversary of Air Force One is undoubtedly one of the coolest-ever pieces of marketing.
As someone who has worked on Nike (disclosure: they’re a client), I know that some people dismiss such praise because, “Well, they’re Nike.” And whilst they are certainly “lucky” in that trainers are inherently more interesting than washing liquid or other household goods, that doesn’t negate the fact that the way they approach their marketing can provide lessons for us all.
What Nike does brilliantly is understand the trends and cultural shifts that are influencing people and determine how they can build those into their products and marketing. And, with the rise of the likes of Nike+, they’re creating products that are marketing.
Whilst most brands may not get to work with the likes of Michael Jordan or Wayne Rooney, we can all think about how the stories our brands tell might be of interest or even of use to our customers.
Disclosure: Nike is a client of Mindshare.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.