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Why Nike Strike Night is the experience we all wish we'd created

Dubbed Fight Club for football by lead agency XYZ, Nike took a secret event in London and turned the on-pitch action into a cultural moment.

Why Nike Strike Night is the experience we all wish we'd created

Yasmin Arrigo recommends

Event Awards 2017

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Described by judges as a game-changer and a future benchmark for how all live events will be experienced, Nike Strike Night took home the coveted Grand Prix at the 20th edition of Campaign’s Event Awards.

Yet undoubtedly, on a dark winter’s evening at the start of the year, the invited guests that had been tempted down to a secret underground London location – Collin’s Music Hall in Islington - couldn’t have anticipated the audacious live experience that was to follow.

Objectives

Nike wanted to transform a traditional football boot release into a cultural moment. Inspired by the NBA dunk contest, the event needed to form the launch platform for the all black colourway of the new Nike Hypervenom 3, positioning it as "the boot for the finisher" or rather, the ultimate goalscorer. 

The task for lead agency XYZ was to introduce and establish this new positioning in a fresh, disruptive manner, and one that would dominate social and digital channels, engaging both media, influencers, Nike partners but most crucially, the football-obsessed teen.

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Live interaction

Within the raw concrete underground theatre space, XYZ built the perfect backdrop to broadcast the ultimate in global penalty shootouts. With several levels, the venue created a stadium-style atmosphere for the crowd of sneakerheads and football obsessives, while providing perfect filming opportunities at ground level to ensure a slick Facebook Live experience.

Other agencies working on the project included Limelight, Groovy Gecko, Another Space, part of United Visual Artists, and AKQA with the latter two instrumental in the creation of the world’s first full-size, fully interactive LED goal.

XYZ created Strike Night with Europe’s six elite goal-scorers going head-to-head in a penalty shoot-out in front of a 400-strong crowd of invited guests and almost half a million Facebook Live viewers.

To be crowned champion, the footballers had to score high, with results measured by a fully interactive LED goal and the global Facebook Live audience recorded via emojis and Facebook reactions.

The strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mauro Icardi, Marcus Rashford, Christian Benteke, Andre Silva, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, were judged pitchside by Nike Football legends Ian Wright and Didier Drogba while real-time Facebook poll functionality was deployed to drive engagement. The audience had their say via a reaction emoji and at the end of the battle, the athlete with the highest number of votes received a 500-point bonus.

Within 24 hours, more than 2.7 million fans had watched the Facebook Live broadcast, while live content outside the broadcast reached an incredible 10 million views. Snapchat, Instagram and Instagram Stories all featured Nike Strike Night, ensuring that the target audience could be reached via the social channel of their choice.

Players also hyped their own battles during the build-up with bespoke stills and videos while football legends including Harry Kane took to their own channels to endorse the event and pledge support for teammates. The victorious Andre Silva chose the moment to make his Instagram Stories debut. Grime stars AJ Tracey and Santan Dave rounded off the evening with an exclusive live performance.

XYZ founder Will Mould said: "Strike Night was a perfect example of how a live brand event can be amplified by collaboration and clever use of technology. We are very lucky to have a client such as Nike who not only believe in that vision as well, but who trust us to deliver their most important brand experiences on a global scale."

The Results

Judges at this year’s Event Awards described the event as a game changer in how future sports marketing events will be experienced. Few brands would argue with the results: 483,000 people around the world witnessed the tournament live and in total more than 2.7 million fans watched the Facebook Live broadcast in just 24 hours.

Live content outside the broadcast, on brand and media channels, amassed 10 million views across Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter

A further 19 million content views were gained via athlete channels, which included 7.8 million across Instagram Stories. The champion Andre Silva chose Strike Night as his moment to use Stories for the first time, sharing his journey to the title with over 250,000 followers.

Live content outside the broadcast, on brand and media channels, amassed 10 million views across Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, along with 30,000 media mentions globally, resulting in a total of 700 million impressions. 

The football-obsessed teen audience would have been immersed in Strike Night via brands, media, influencers and athletes.

PrettyGreen’s founder Mark Stringer, one of the 30-strong panel of this year’s Event Awards, added: "Nike Strike Night by XYZ was my standout campaign – it was just technically brilliant."

No word yet as to whether a second Strike Night is in the offing – Nike has rarely repeated its experiences – but with such enviable results, 2018’s kick off will be the one to watch.

For full coverage of the winners, highly commended and the case studies visit the Event Awards hub.