Runner-Up: Digital Dominator Focuses on the Global Picture

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For 2007, revenue increased 9.2% to 16.3 billion.
Quarter net income rose 51% to $569.7 million.
Customize like a champ. Few marketers have adapted to the world of limitless consumer choice -- where consumers expect brands customized to their own tastes -- as well as Nike. Want a shoe that's in sync with your iPod? Try Nike Plus. It's no wonder the No. 1 sports-footwear company widened its lead last year.

Great creative isn't good enough. Nike and lead agency Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., have been synonymous with award-winning creative, yet Nike shocked the ad world by awarding its running-shoe account to Crispin Porter & Bogusky this year.

Dominate digital. Nike continues to use emerging media faster and more aggressively than most of its peers.
WINNER: Nintendo
  1. Apple
  2. Nike
  3. Al Gore
  4. Geico
  5. Unilever
Digital shops R/GA, New York, and Avenue A/ Razorfish, Seattle, have helped Nike construct an ambitious interactive TV campaign -- the "Quick is deadly" effort starring football's LaDainian Tomlinson and others -- as well as buzz-generating, community-building sites for brands such as Nike Plus and Nike ID. Nike Plus even has users running a virtual half-marathon all over the world this month.

Build a truly global brand. Years of aggressive marketing overseas have helped put Nike on a stronger footing as a shaky U.S. economy threatens the businesses of the mall stores it depends on here. In the just-completed quarter, U.S. sales rose only 2%, yet net income climbed more than 50% due to double-digit revenue increases abroad, where Nike now gets more than half of its business.

Make your crisis communications Vick quick. Nike has grown its brand on the backs of superstar endorsers such as Michael Jordan, which is why the dogfighting scandal surrounding Michael Vick -- until recently the company's lead football talent -- could have been catastrophic. But by quickly suspending sales of Mr. Vick's gear, yet waiting until he pleaded guilty before dropping him, Nike earned plaudits from both animal-rights activists (for acting decisively) and player agents (for not selling out Mr. Vick before his guilt was determined). Nike also had shifted its football creative in an ensemble direction, softening the blow.
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