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Nike CMO: ‘No Bigger Stage Than the Olympics’

Nike chief marketing officer Greg Hoffman explains how the company is tapping the Olympic opportunity ‘not only through storytelling but also through product and services.’
(L-R) Nike chief marketing officer, Brazilian football player Neymar in Nike's "Unlimited" campaign | Source: Nike
By
  • Limei Hoang

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — The 2016 Olympic Games, which open in Rio De Janiero on Friday, are a powerful marketing platform for global sportswear giant Nike. "There is no bigger stage or moment in sports than the Olympic Games," Nike chief marketing officer Greg Hoffman told BoF.

Of course, Brazil has fallen a long way from the high flying days of 2009, when Rio De Janeiro won the right to host the Games, beating out Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago. The country is suffering from a long list of woes, from widespead economic crisis to a public health disaster.

But for Hoffman, Rio 2016 offers a unique opportunity. For the first time in 16 years, the company is an official sponsor of the Games. “We sponsor both the US Olympic Committee and the Brazil Olympic Federation, as well as Rio 2016 and the Brazil Organising Committee,” he explained. “We’ve always had a relationship with sport in Brazil, specifically, and certainly the passion for sport within Brazil permeates through everything, so there’s always been a natural relationship between Nike and the Brazil consumer.”

It's not just about being a spectator. We want people to be an active participant in the experience and then go out and achieve their best.

The company is using the Games to unveil its new “Unlimited” advertising campaign, which champions “everyday athletes” alongside top performers like Neymar Jr, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Mo Farah and Zhou Qi. “This is a campaign where we take athletes of all types, skill levels, all ages on a journey to reach their full potential,” explained Hoffman. “What we are always striving to do is close the distance between [stars] and everyday athletes.”

But Nike is offering more than traditional brand storytelling. “What you will see is our ability to amplify the athletes’ voice at the Games and connect on a deeper level with the Brazil consumers — not only through storytelling and inspiration but also through product and services,” said Hoffman. “It’s not just about being a spectator there, we want people to be an active participant in the experience and then go out and achieve their best.”

Indeed, Nike is planning to stage a series of local consumer experiences, many linked to its popular running clubs, which began as simple weekly runs with peers, but have since grown to include expert guidance from professional “coaches” as well as a Nike+ digital training app. “On the ground, we will be doing many different activations around our running clubs, our training clubs, empowering all of those through the Nike+ services,” said Hoffman. “That means not only product, it means guidance, it means training programmes, and it’s that immediacy and that personal connection and Nike knowing you in a very personal way — that is a big part of that Unlimited campaign.”

Nike could use a boost after reporting lower-than-expected quarterly revenue growth of $8.24 billion for the three-month period ending May 31, falling short of analyst expectations of $8.28 billion. The company had previously set out plans to reach $50 billion in revenue by 2020, up from around $32 billion in 2016 and recently said it expect sales to increase by high single-digits during its next fiscal year, falling short of analyst expectations of around 10 percent.

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