R/GA Nike Sites:
"We had to immerse ourselves in the Nike culture, which for a small, East Coast-based agency working with a Portland company, it was difficult at times for us," said R/GA Chairman Bob Greenberg. "It's a culture that's very strong within the brands themselves. But we did have a base to work with, and that is that they wanted very experiential Web sites."
The initial result was online marketing initiatives, for several Nike Web sites, including: nike.com, the company's global home site; nikegoddess.com, designed specifically for women; nikelab.com, a futuristic, interactive tour of Nike products; nikebasketball.com, which includes the animated series "Hooptown" and "Sole System," a history of Nike basketball shoes; and nikerunning.com, which includes shoe comparisons, pace calculators and other tool sets for the avid runner.
Ultimately, R/GA went onto create seven Nike sites that now collectively draw more unique visitors than sites for competitors Adidas and Reebok, according to ComScore Media Metrix.
Nike has a total of 14 product-related Web sites connected to its central Nike.com. Seven of them were created by Nike's own in-house team.
'A different channel'
"For a lot of companies, the idea of using the Web is to copy and paste a commercial onto their site. But Nike is smart enough to realize that the Web as a medium is a different channel," said Rei Inamoto, R/GA's creative director. "A Web site is a destination that people come to. If people are spending a couple of minutes there, in a traditional advertising sense that's an amazing brand awareness."
That's why the Nike sites had to be different and innovative -- a hallmark of the company's advertising, from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., that consumers have come to expect. For nikelab.com, for instance, R/GA used the latest digital design tools of Flash MX and Shockwave to build the site. R/GA also worked with New York-based Tronic Studio to create a 3-D product presentation that lets users "peel away" layers of the product to reveal the underlying structure and technology.
The Nike audience
"A Nike audience has a more common knowledge and tends to be a younger audience," Mr. Inamoto said. "Their interests differentiate from one thing to another. There are different levels of technical savviness. Nikelab is centered within the Nike consumer mind-set and caters to those who seek new things."
A symbiotic relationship exists among Nike, Wieden and R/GA so that when Wieden is introducing a campaign, R/GA gets briefed, "which is really unusual for an interactive agency," Mr. Greenberg said.
Three years ago, submerging itself into Nike's culture was the first priority. Today, R/GA has 50 employees who work exclusively on the Nike business. "Not only do we not have to push them creatively, they push us," Mr. Inamoto said.