Nike’s First and Long Campaign: Spotlighted Native Advertising

The story I picked for my spotlight project is a campaign presented by Nike called First and Long. The campaign spotlights seven NFL players as they go back to their high school football team to coach for one practice. The content produced is six short videos. Each video highlights a different NFL player; one video has two, and their high school football team. The player’s spotlighted in this campaign are Desean Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders, Mason Crosby, Coby Fleener, Ndamukong Suh, Ted Ginn Jr. and Donte Whitner.The videos were presented on in 2014. The Nike logo is used multiple times on the web page, so it’s easy to tell they presented the content. The videos were all also uploaded to SB Nation’s Youtube page on July 21, 2014. On Youtube each video has at least 20,000 views, but some have more.

Each video tells it’s own story, but they’re all very similar. Each NFL player gives a motivational speech to the high school players and describes what their experience was like when they played there. That would make each story factual. Alone, each video is good native advertising, but together the campaign tells a more complete story and is much more affective. Nike is phenomenal when it comes to branding and original advertising. They are usually one step ahead of their competitors and have done other content marketing in the past. Aside from the First and Long campaign, another good example from Nike is the work they’ve done with the University of Oregon. There was a time when people would watch the Oregon Ducks play football just to see what uniforms they were wearing. It was advertising for Nike that did not appear as traditional advertising.

There are several things about these videos that make them great native advertising. The first is the use of the NFL players. Anytime a person’s favorite athlete or celebrity is promoting something, they’re more likely to be interested in the ad. These ads definitely have that appeal. Another reason this story is so interesting is because it makes you feel good. When you see a professional athlete go back to his humble beginnings and support youth in his community it makes you feel encouraged. This campaign is motivating for the high school football players, but also to the consumer because if these players had success, you can too. The last thing that makes this story so interesting is the fact that they are a compilation of short videos. These videos are not commercials, but they are still ads. It’s not an article written about these NFL players’ supporting their local community, but it still tells a story. After watching all these videos a consumer can hear a story, feel encouraged, be entertained and build a relationship with the Nike brand all at the same time.

I do not think that this campaign is controversial in any way. It doesn’t share any particular heavy content, it’s mostly just a feel good piece. On the website where the campaign is displayed, there’s an option to share the story on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. Providing a quick link for consumers to share this story is a smart idea because of the nature of these videos, people will want to share them with their friends.

There are a couple things other companies can learn about native advertising from Nike and this campaign. First is the use of professional athletes. Companies frequently pick celebrities to be the voice of their brand or campaign. This has been proven to be a successful strategy on many occasions. Even though these seven NFL players are not directly saying anything about Nike, they’re still acting as a brand ambassador. They’re making Nike look good by doing a good thing for these young players. This is a strategy that other companies could use to their advantage as well. In addition, Nike is only mentioned once in each video and it’s at the very end. In small text it says, “presented by Nike.” This is actually a good thing. The viewer is still aware that Nike is behind this piece but doesn’t feel like they’re being pushed to buy anything. That’s what native advertising is all about.

This campaign is entertaining, tells a story and promotes brand loyalty for Nike. These videos have been shared on social media and are affective advertising because they are innovative, interesting and an exciting approach to sponsored content.