Nike is a global brand that has made an investment in being as local as possible. But despite these efforts there was also a recognition that it was losing its audience with its advertising.
This week Nike released an ad that immediately went viral. In many ways, it was like a typical Nike ad – a lot of quick cuts and shots of athletes performing their various sports. But at the same time the ad, Nothing Beats A Londoner, is also very different from what we are used to seeing from the sportswear brand. While there were a few celebrity cameos, it was mostly filled with real kids, real Londoners, playing their sport in their city.
The ad comes at a time when more and more brands are finding it difficult to speak to a generation that aren’t as brand loyal as their parents. In a recent US study by Interactions Consumer Experience Marketing, 79% of Generation Z said their preference is for a quality product, not necessarily a brand-name item, and 81% said they are willing to switch from their favourite brand if they find one of better quality. But at the same time, Generation Z are seeking a personalised approach from brands – a study by the National Retail Federation and IBM found that 53% of this generation choose brands that ‘understand them as an individual’.
The ad comes at a time when more and more brands are finding it difficult to speak to a generation that aren’t as brand loyal as their parents.
This was the impetus behind the Nike ad, created by Wieden + Kennedy London. ‘There was a feeling that Nike had lost touch with the real kids of London and our campaigns didn’t talk to them in their own language any more,’ the W+K creative directors behind the advert, Paddy Treacy and Mark Shanley, told Fast Company. ‘So we wanted to get back on their level and create a new voice and presence in London that makes ripples around the world, allowing our consumers to see, touch and feel the Nike brand again.’
Nike has launched a series of activations in the past few years to show how dedicated it is to local communities. From launching locally run clubs to creating sneakers based on the running data of specific cities, Nike is a global brand that has made an investment in being as local as possible. But despite these efforts there was also a recognition that it was losing its audience with its advertising, which often features celebrity athletes – many who may have started out playing sport on the streets but are now unrelatable multimillionaires. Nothing Beats A Londoner does feature cameos from London stars such as grime artist Skepta and Olympic athlete Mo Farah, but the emphasis is on the youth of the city, from East to West with a variety of accents and sporting activities showing the diversity of the capital.
But more importantly, Nothing Beats A Londoner is more than just an ad. Beyond Nike’s three-minute spot, it also hosted a week of events – perfectly timed for half-term – to celebrate ‘LDNRS’, as they described them. Alongside free classes across underserved areas such as Tottenham and Whitechapel, they also hosted special events such as a dodgeball game in Lambeth, where the winners received £5,000 to donate to a charity of their choice and tickets to a Chelsea v Barcelona football game. While brands often aim to embody the teen spirit in their aesthetic, Nike is embodying it in its actions – and for this generation that’s what matters most.