Did NIKE Just Blow It?

Source: Full-page ad in The Oregonian

Let me start this one by asking a question about your marketing: Are you connecting with your customers/clients by making them smile and endearing them to your brand?

That question hit me hard when I recently saw Skechers launch a brilliant ad campaign against NIKE.

This one is hilarious — check this out…

On Wednesday, February 20th, the college basketball “game of the year” tipped off: Duke vs. North Carolina. This must-see game was hyped for weeks by ESPN and every other sports outlet. The TV ratings were anticipated to be the highest of the season, and oh boy, was ESPN excited to be covering the game on all of their media platforms (even former President Barack Obama flew into Raleigh, NC to watch this epic matchup).

The game tipped off as planned, but just seconds in…

The worst happened!

Duke’s top player, Zion Williamson, arguably the best player in amateur basketball since LeBron James, made a cut near the free throw line and then, out of nowhere, his shoe blew out and his knee buckled. (In case you missed it, here’s a recap of what went down.)

Oh boy.

Williamson was hurt and out of the game. College basketball’s marquee star, on its biggest stage, done in by a shoe disintegration. A NIKE shoe. Duke ended up losing the game, as well.

Talk about a PR nightmare.

To NIKE’s credit, and in line with my teachings in Fire Them Now: The 7 Lies Digital Marketers Sell… (about how to handle a PR disaster), they quickly jumped on the situation and did an excellent job responding under terrible circumstances.

But that’s not why I’m writing today…I’m writing to show you how smart their shoe rival, Skechers, acted to capitalize on NIKE’s misfortune.

Skechers saw NIKE ’s vulnerability as an opportunity — and they POUNCED!

And here’s what happened…

On Sunday, March 3rd, Skechers ran these funny as hell “Just Blew It” ads in the Sunday newspapers of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and boldly, The Oregonian (the newspaper of record in NIKE’s home state). And here is why their campaign was so smart:

  • Yes, it’s a play on NIKE’s famed marketing campaign of “Just Do It.”
  • Yes, it made people smile and gained the company millions in free advertising as news outlets all over the world ran the story.
  • Yes, Skechers indirectly promoted that its own basketball shoe that would never have disintegrated on national TV.

But that’s not the only cool thing here.

Skechers deserves credit for not falling in line with “group-think” marketing by only advertising on social/digital platforms. Instead, they ran the majority of this marketing campaign in hard copy, old-timey newspapers.

Why did they do this?

Here’s my assumption: Skechers’ brilliant marketing team is screen agnostic, and they followed the data. For a reduced price of buying print ads, they could get just as much free exposure as they would spending 5x more on digital-only platforms.

Smart move!

While Skechers capitalized on NIKE’s mishap by building a deeper connection with current and future customers, there are a few additional ideas I would have employed, including:

  1. Move faster! I spend an entire chapter in Fire Them Now: The 7 Lies Digital Marketers Sell… emphasizing the importance of speed in these unique marketing moments. Skechers’ 11-day lag time from the “blowout” to their campaign launch was about 7 days too long. Ideally, these ads should’ve shown up on Sunday, February 24th, instead of March 3rd.
  2. Take a 2nd bite of the apple. Skechers should consider taking the articles written about this ad campaign, re-package them, and re-market the best quotes. Hell, since Sketchers successfully went “negative” on NIKE the first time, they might as well “just do it” again (bad pun….sorry)…and maybe launch these ads when Williamson returns to the court and tons of eyeballs will be watching his return (most likely when the NCAA Tournament starts and screen ratings will be sky-high).

Overall, a big thumbs up to Skechers for not being intimidated to take on their industry’s top shoe dog.

Phillip


P.S. — Switching gears, I was on Fox News talking about Michael Cohen’s testimony in Congress and Russian collusion. Curious about how Cohen did? Did he give Democrats another track to pursue the impeachment of Donald Trump? He did. Find out more from my discussion on Fox News with Heather Childers.

P.P.S. — If you know of a friend or a colleague that would enjoy my bi-weekly updates about incredibly cool, funny and idiotic marketing ideas, please have them email me (ps@phillipstutts.com) or sign up at PhillipStutts.com.