At first sight, it might seem bizarre that Nike’s reaction to its
financial woes has been to slash its marketing budget by dollars 100
million or about 15 per cent. Surely, we think, it should be doing the
Maybe not. Maybe there’s a bit of method in its madness. Maybe, rather
than spending its money unwisely, Nike has just been spending too much
money. Maybe, in other words, it’s been over-marketing rather than
In part, this is what happens when you become excessively
If you’ve been to a sports/fashion shop recently, it’s hard not to
conclude that there are too many Nike products around - that they are,
for want a better phrase, trying to stuff too much product down the
Not before time, consumers are suffering indigestion. Add to this the
suspicion that Nike thinks it can do for every sport what it has done
for athletics (how long before Nike tries to get into angling or flog us
special table-football shoes?) and it’s little surprise that the
consumer is suffering from Nike overload.
Genuine football fans, as opposed to arrivistes, are probably asking
themselves: ’Who are these Nike people and why do they want to at best
dominate and at worst take our sport away from us?’ Similarly golf.
Signing up Tiger Woods the moment he wins a big tournament and throwing
millions into overpriced golf shoes and hats is more likely to alienate
than win over golf’s fan base.
This is where Adidas has an advantage. Its bottom-up approach to sports
starts with the fans rather than the latest star (who’s probably a
one-minute wonder, anyway), and is the major difference between the two
Longer term, it’s significant because it imbues Adidas with deeper roots
and greater authenticity. By contrast, Nike looks like a gatecrasher who
wants to take over the party.
Just as I always felt uncomfortable about Nike’s ’just do it’ tagline
(so 80s, so fundamentally selfish), I have my doubts about Rainey
Kelly/Vauxhall’s new line for the Astra. ’Quality is a right. Not a
privilege’ is, I’m sorry to say, patronising.
The implication is that Vauxhall has only just started making quality
cars and we should be grateful for whatever they serve up from now
The reality is consumers have long since been educated to expect quality
in their cars - and they’ve got the Japanese and Volkswagen, who must
surely be Vauxhall’s principal competitors, to thank for that.
Thus a line this lame says more about Vauxhall than it does about the
consumer. Indeed, it’s the kind of line that manufacturers turn into
mission statements in order to exhort factory workers to minimise
The funny thing is I quite like the ad, which is visually striking.
It’s just that the underlying premise is, I fear, both me-too and too
late. Making a virtue out of what should be a necessity (if an
assumption of quality isn’t the minimum entry price for any car
manufacturer, then what is?) just isn’t going to be enough in these