It's gotten to the point where the ads are better than the content they surround. Bathrooms and snackfoods go ignored. But for how much longer? Can this scenario continue indefinitely? Will Nike always remain King of Advertisers? I believe the key to Nike's continued success is very simple. There is one really big, absolutely huge, completely bullet-proof, never-before-been-done idea that has not yet been explored. And it's high time for Nike to try it.
No ads at all. The Nothing Campaign. That's right, absolutely no Nike print or broadcast. A complete and utter blank on the consumer's radar for an extended period of time. No half-time sponsorships. No "win" ads. No billboards. Nothing. And it will work precisely because it shouldn't. They're already close to this big idea right now. Just a shoe and a phone number? Just a flying-man logo? Everyone knows it's Nike, without them saying it's Nike. So why not travel down this road a bit further? Go all the way. The trick is in executing The Nothing Campaign properly. Set it up with a teaser effort, for instance. I see a TV spot with Jordan, Joyner-Kersee, Griffey and Agassi eating hot dogs on a New York City street corner and slowly, they all fade away. A Mark Fenske VO says, "See ya." Swoosh up and out.
Make sure everyone gets what Nike is doing. Stage a press conference with Phil Knight where he sits there and says nothing. Andrew Young can do a new tour of Nike factories and issue a blank report. Suddenly, doing nothing-not running ads-will be the coolest possible thing to do. And only Nike can do this, because their ads are so well liked. Everyone will miss them. And everyone will talk about Nike precisely because they aren't there. And think, if Nike vanishes from the public consciousness, only non-Nike ads can fill the void, which works in Nike's favor! Those other guys aren't Nike. They're not cool. Consumers will hate Nike's competition and their stupid ads because it reminds them of what isn't there. Advertising aficionados will collect those unique "no Nike" issues of Sports Illustrated. People will watch halftime shows just because they know there aren't any Nike spots. They'll want to be in on the hip, new trend. Even Jay Leno could participate. (Leno: "If I'd known doing nothing could be so popular, I would've stayed at home tonight!" Audience: Laughter.)
Sales of Nike's new line of no-logo apparel will skyrocket. (Taking the swoosh off the product will further the concept.) Wearing swooshless shoes and hats will be the next big thing in rap videos (and it speeds up the legal clearance procedures!). Remember-only Nike can do nothing. Their silence will speak louder than any campaign in advertising history.
Of course, like any good campaign, the end must come. Doing nothing will only be cool for so long, you know. Perhaps a neat way of easing back into "real" advertising would be to simply buy ad space and broadcast time-but not use it. Imagine picking up Rolling Stone and finding a couple blank pages, where once you would've found a pithy ACG piece? Or 30 seconds of blank screen during the NBA finals? After all the hoopla of doing nothing, consumers would know who done it. Yet another brilliant bit of anti-anti-advertising from the folks at Nike.
There isn't anything that hasn't been done, so why not do nothing? Seinfeld has achieved phenomenal success dealing with nothing. It's the ultimate sociological statement an advertiser could make. Then, like the tsunami that will one day destroy the Los Angeles basin, Nike returns. W&K turns the amp up to 11. Brilliant print and broadcast concepts sweep the landscape. I can't wait to put those Nothing Campaign reprints into my portfolio.