A recent punter wrote that Nike is a great company. Well, sorry,
but I have to disagree. Growth is down to only 6 per cent so it’s time
to lay off 1,500 people. And now the advertising is coming under fire
too as the latest campaign turns sour. All the ingredients of a really
tasty corporate disaster are just around the corner. But can advertising
- through Wieden & Kennedy - really come to the rescue and is it Mr
Wieden’s fault anyway?
I remember doing a bit of research into sports brands. I had a chat with
my brother, Vince, who plays for a local side. I asked him what he felt
about various brands. I thought that he would comment on the advertising
and say things like ’you know, when I put on some Nike trainers I just
feel such a rebel’. But not a bit of it.
He simply gave me a run-down of product quality. ’This brand has good
designs, this one lasts, this one doesn’t,’ etc. As someone who works in
advertising, I was gobsmacked. How could he not comment on the
advertising or the image? Ad folk have a reputation for spending hours
staring up their own arses - and I’m no exception, it seems.
What he actually said about Nike was that they were OK but some other
manufacturers made better stuff and often when they tried to make more
complex kit it fell apart rather too quickly. I remember buying a pair
of Nike trainers which came apart in six months. I have stuck to other
brands since - a process which may be happening on a global scale. It’s
just a pity Mr Wieden is the scapegoat.
After all, the secret of successful advertising is a good product. If
you have a revolutionary running shoe, the world is likely to beat a
path to your door. And promptly walk away again when everyone else has
Finally, on to the ’I can’ campaign. What kind of a pathetic line is
that? Not a patch on the immortal ’just do it’. I don’t think they
needed to change the campaign. Apparently ’I can’ (which sounds like a
toddler after a toilet training session) is more ’90s’. What they don’t
realise is that fashions change but people don’t.
Perhaps if Nike spent more time getting the product right and stopped
lambasting its agency, it might be a better off. Alternatively, this may
be a case of a blip in sales being turned into a major corporate
disaster by people with massive neuroses. Only time will tell.