Nike Setting the Pace in Interactive-TV Race

'Quick Is Deadly' Effort to Include 20 Minutes of Content for Dish Network Subscribers

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Nike is charging past the rest of the country's marketers in the interactive-TV race, launching the most ambitious push in that medium to date.
Dish DVR users will be able to click into 30- and 60-second TV spots starring San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson and other fleet-footed Nike athletes.
Dish DVR users will be able to click into 30- and 60-second TV spots starring San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson and other fleet-footed Nike athletes.

The footwear-and-apparel behemoth said last week that the new "Quick Is Deadly" campaign for its Zoom training-shoe line would include more than 20 minutes of interactive content accessible to Dish Network subscribers with DVRs. While marketing via interactive TV is fairly widespread in Europe and has been dabbled with by a few brands here, including HP and Mini Cooper, Nike's push into the space is seen as historic in its comprehensiveness.

"This is certainly the most sophisticated interactive-TV campaign that the U.S. has ever seen," said Michele Bogdan, senior VP-marketing at Ensequence, which has worked on interactive campaigns for Ford, Visa and Reebok and helped Nike's agencies, Wieden & Kennedy and R/GA, produce this effort. "Nike has taken this to a whole new level."

Clicking in
Dish DVR users -- about 30% of the network's 13 million subscribers -- will be able to click into 30- and 60-second TV spots starring San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson and other fleet-footed Nike athletes. Nike gives them the option to view interview footage of the football star discussing his exhaustive training regimen, footage of Mr. Tomlinson's signature spin move in different speeds, a Nike-branded game designed to test viewers' remote-control reflexes and a three-dimensional demo of the Zoom shoe.

Using ZIP-code information in each Dish unit, users will also be able to find stores carrying the shoe at the click of a button. The campaign does not give users the option of buying the shoe from their set, although the technology does enable that function.

Ms. Bogdan and others pointed to research that showed the level of engagement with interactive TV is significantly higher than with 30-second spots, with the added bonus for the advertiser that it is very measurable.

"We've gotten to the point where all media needs to be interactive," said Joe Staples, associate creative director on the Nike account at Wieden.

Picking up the pace
The work hits at a moment when Nike is trying to perk up its U.S. footwear sales. Growth slowed to 6.6% during the marketer's just-completed 2007 fiscal year, compared to 14.1% a year earlier. Nike still boasts a dominant 36% share in the U.S. athletic footwear and apparel market, but it must fend off Adidas, which has grown its share to 21% from 9% since acquiring Reebok in 2005.

The campaign, which also includes substantial print and internet components, features athletes in Nike's endorser stable who tend to rely as much on quickness as they do upon size, speed or power, according to Mr. Staples. They include, in addition to Mr. Tomlinson, basketball's Steve Nash, runner Lauren Fleshman, Olympic sprinters Asafa Powell and Sanya Richards and tennis player Rafael Nadal, all of whom wear Zoom shoes -- said to be more reactive due to their close-to-the-ground construction -- to train.

"Everybody knows what speed is and what power is," said Mr. Staples. "Quickness wins the game."
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