Nike: Local, Global Advertising.

The release of Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ advert was met with a lot of excitement, but what’s their overall strategy?
Nike: Local, Global Advertising.

Our first thought when watching the advert was what an incredible piece of creative work it is. The introduction to a specific London tone of voice with Skepta casually talking on the phone, a slow build in tempo, inspiration and humour blended into a punchy explosion of a heightened, dreamlike representation of athletic London.

Our second thought? We need to watch that again.

Third? Why London? What’s their strategy here?

Fourth? We need to watch it one more time.

It’s an interesting strategy, the global sports brand in focussing its efforts on twelve cities across the world: New York, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, Mexico City, Barcelona, Seoul and Milan. These hubs of human activity have been identified by Nike as where 80% of its growth will be in the coming years.

So they’re crafting individual campaigns tailored to create a buzz amongst those specific audiences and assimilate their brand into the culture.

The London advert sees amateurs, pros, musicians and comedians driving home the message all while clad head to toe in Nike apparel. Despite the injection of celebrity, the film focuses on a diverse range of young athletes each overlapping with the next, each with their own soundtrack (from Grime to Classical) encompassing as many aspects of London’s youth culture. The central point gives us a comedic breather before amping up to a soaring, energetic crescendo. It all serves to deliver an aspirational and inspirational message – anyone can get out there and be an athlete, whatever their circumstance.

Like we said, we’ve watched it a few times.

It’s received a lot of positive attention, especially (unsurprisingly) from Londoners, so Nike seems to have managed to capture the spirit of the capital as they intended.
Even Sadiq Khan’s a fan.

So does that mean that their strategy is working? Around 13% of the UK’s population live in the greater London area and some commenters* are arguing that it will lose traction the further away from London you get – saying that audiences in different cultural areas of the UK might not relate to it; so they’re potentially missing 87% of the market.

Our answer to that would be, they’re targeting London, not the UK – that 13% is the goal. The fairly experienced marketing team at Nike have done their research and have identified London as one of those major growth areas and are focusing their efforts on them for good reason. And they’re engaging with the city. So, to that end, they appear to be achieving their goals.

Moreover, Nike has always been something of an aspirational brand. Positioning themselves as part of certain aspirational cultures. For example, pro-football, pro-basketball, strong willed athletes and now inspirational (and undeniably cool) young London athletes. The culture on display in the ad, for example, is a brand of its own – the Grime flavoured, tongue in cheek London youth. This micro-culture is viewed across the country, by many of its contemporaries, as aspirational.

Let’s not forget that it’s the brand people are buying, yes Nike have good tech, but you could argue there are better pure sports brands out there. Brands like Nike and Adidas have traditionally placed themselves as a part of urban culture, the swoosh and stripes almost badges of cultural heritage before signs of high quality sport-gear.

And as a brand building (or, more accurately, brand positioning) exercise to align Nike with this kind of aspirational, relatable culture, this strategy seems to be delivering the goods. It’s certainly given us some brilliant creative work. At the very least, it’s got people talking about Nike, in and out of the industry.

As to whether their long-term strategy will pay dividends beyond the media buzz of this first advert, we’ll have to wait and see. But it’s going to be exciting watching it unfold.