OPINION: MILLS ON MARKETING

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 exact opposite?

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

exact opposite?



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

undermarketing.



In part, this is what happens when you become excessively

product-led.



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

consumers’ throats.



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

brands.



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

on.



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

production faults.



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

competitive times.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).