Ambush Marketing…Nike Style

Today, officially, and dare I say, thankfully, we say good-bye to the London 2012 Games, though not without a shout out to team USA’s men’s gold medal winning bball team.  (Hey, Melo, any chance you can bring some of that juice home to NYC?)

Companies pay huge sums to be Olympic sponsors, and, theoretically at least,  for good reason – for two weeks every two years the entire planet is focused on something positive.  Not many marketing opportunities can give you that kind of stage.  One of the London Games’ official sponsors, for example, was adidas.  By some estimates, adidas paid, based on today’s exchange rate, about $160 million over the last four years for exclusive marketing rights in the UK only, which included the cost of the sponsorship, the ad campaigns and outfitting the athletes.  The New York Times reports that the sponsorship piece alone cost (again, based on today’s exchange rate) about $60 million.  To quote Macaulay Culkin from one of my top 10 Will & Grace episodes, “That’s a lotta chedda, yo!”

Then there’s Nike.  They ran a wonderful, engaging TV ad called “Find Your Greatness – Jogger” that is not only a viral sensation, but has really captured peoples’ imaginations (you can watch it here).  Then they stuck it to adidas in their own backyard with this print ad featuring the great British women’s marathoner and current world champion Paula Radcliffe.  Then this morning during the men’s bball finals, they ran a “Game On” spot that was as kick-ass and adrenaline-fueled as “Find Your Greatness” was endearing (you can see it here).  Cost of the sponsorship?  Zero.  They paid for media buys and production costs, but they paid no sponsorship fee because they weren’t a sponsor.  Net result?  Ad Age reported that of 1,034 US consumers surveyed, 37% identified Nike as an Olympic sponsor.

Call it chutzpah (look it up), call it good ol’ American ingenuity.  But THAT is how it’s done.

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Looks like the Gray Lady is getting a dye job

I could not pass this one up – The New York Times announced this morning that Bill Keller is out as executive editor, to be replaced by Jill Abramson, a managing editor since 2003.  Keller will continue to write for the Times.

Why, you ask, did I find this a “must discuss” story?  Ms. Abramson will be the first woman to lead the Times in its 160 year history, which pretty much rocks all by itself.  But the powers that be didn’t make the change because they have diversity problems (although the paper has been criticized for its lack of diversity given its liberal slant).

If you ask me, they did it because Bill Keller seems to have become the poster boy for the “He-Man-Digital-Haters-Club,” while at the same time his employer is working mightily to maintain its relevance in the digital age.  The article he wrote for the NYT Magazine a few weeks ago didn’t help.  To imply that the Gutenberg press had a downside in that it “replaced remembering,” and to liken that to “Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter…displacing real rapport and real conversation” is to suggest that he uses these tools to maintain the appearance of keeping current but hasn’t yet figured out how to use them productively.  So rather than come clean on his own shortcomings, he’s decided to take a potshot at the rest of us, claiming that digital technology is only good for giving us more time for Farmville and “Real Housewives.”  The fact that he said it publicly suggests that he probably didn’t want to keep his job anyway.