Marketer of the Year: Nike
Biggest move made:
Became the first brand to sell a product directly through Snapchat
Time it took for sneaker drop to sell out:
Embracing mobile technology and social media has helped Nike to more directly connect with customers and elevate the brand in a crowded retail space.
From leveraging social platforms and diving into fresh mobile ad strategies, to creating powerful in-store experiences through technology, Nike has tied up mobile marketing this year, making it a champion in the space.
While the athletics retailer made waves this year with powerful creative that drove national conversation, its success in using bleeding edge technology shows how integrating mobile is key from the start. That approach — rather than as an add-on tactic — can help brands break through in a crowded market to connect with on-the-go consumers that are increasingly fatigued by traditional advertising.
Nike started off 2018 strong by becoming the first brand to sell a product directly through Snapchat. Attendees of the brand's party after the NBA All-Star game in February could scan exclusive QR codes to open the app and buy a pair of Air Jordan III "Tinker" sneakers before the shoe hit stores in March. The shoes sold out in 23 minutes, and just months later, Nike extended the campaign to Facebook Messenger to test the platform's new augmented reality (AR) feature that gives people a closer look at products. To view the featured sneaker, users could send a series of emojis to a chatbot on Messenger, where they then unlocked the "Kyrie 4 red carpet" AR experience that showcased the shoes. After that, they had an opportunity to buy it. The run was a sales win for Nike, which sold out of the sneaker in
While these efforts catapulted social commerce to new heights — and spurred copycat efforts by rival Adidas — Nike also flexed some creative retail marketing muscle by using mobile to enhance in-store experiences and drive sign-ups to its loyalty program. In July, the retailer cut the ribbon on a concept store in Los Angeles that relies on mobile tech and customer data for customized shopping experiences for loyalty members. At the "Nike by Melrose" brick-and-mortar, shoppers can use their phones to reserve products for pickup at smart lockers, scan bar codes to earn rewards or learn about items, text store associates to set up returns and redeem special "unlocks" at a digital vending machine to win exclusive products.
How Nike 'just does it'
What makes Nike a mobile success story is the athletics retailer's openness to embracing new tech, strategies and features that crop up on social platforms.
Surge in social mentions one day after Kaepernick ad releaseSource: Talkwalker
The company was an early adopter of Snapchat's programmatic AR ads, and immediately hopped on to longer-form mobile content when Instagram's standalone IGTV app launched in June. Last spring, Nike was one of the first sponsors of the popular mobile game show HQ Trivia, which has been dubbed "the future of TV" because it regularly gathers a large live audience. By partnering with influencers and brand ambassadors like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Hart, Nike leverages authenticity with the visual appeal of major social platforms YouTube and Instagram, where it saw "incredible" rates of completion and engagement around a September campaign via Stories.
Technology aside, the apparel brand sparked major buzz with a notable risky campaign in September that featured controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick, winning the brand record engagement. Just one day after the NFL free agent posted an ad image on himself on Twitter with the hashtag #JustDoIt, social mentions of the brand surged 1,400% to 2.7 million, according to a social media analysis by Talkwalker.
Bold campaign messaging, along with adopting fresh tech and social tactics, has helped Nike connect more directly with consumers and drum up breakthrough efforts to catapult the brand above competitors in the crowded athletics apparel space.
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