In a previous post I wondered what a 'land-based' brand has to do to make the best use of the Internet. Here I talk about the brand I think has done this.
If the image hadn't given you a fat enough clue, it's Nike. Wherever you find Nike in the digital landscape it is using the Internet’s raw power and operating at the sparking edge. Unquestionably the best example of this is Nike+. Here data, community and personalized experience dance together to create an exquisite digital universe for runners.
The ad budget is diverted away from messages that people are likely to want to block out to a useful application that people want to use, which implicitly communicates what the brand stands for anyway and is likely to reach far more people through that potent tool, word-of-mouth, than by traditional means.
Nike+ is not the only feather in Nike’s digital cap. On a smaller scale, for example, Nike Rockstar Workout (cutting-edge dance instruction for women) and Nike ID (database-driven shoe customization) do the same to offer services and content to people.
And these ideas clearly work: Nike has added $6bn to its revenue in the last four years something which its management happily admits is in large part because of how the brand has behaved online.
So, I believe Nike has made the best use of the Internet for actually using the things the web is good at, leading the way in using them to improve marketing and for being the engine for fantastic commercial growth. The Nike brand is not stuck in the drive just looking nice; it is out on the road and leading the way.
(If anyone is wondering what my other choice would be, it's Apple. Along with Nike+ iTunes is probably the best digital 'ad' ever. Why does it meet 'ad' status? It's free. It is continuously updated (thus very slightly aging your old iPod's with its new features). It locks you into Apple. It's a wonderful experience (ever tried using Sony's Sonic Stage? I'd rather try to swallow a Sony MP3 than connect it to SonicStage.) [Oct 2008 addition] And now with Genius it is actually creating sales based on the library's content.)