Nike’s Neon-Shoe Stunt – A “Marketing Masterstroke”

It’s nothing new that Nike is the maker of all things athletic.  We’re so used to seeing the Nike swoosh on shirts, shorts, balls and shoes that we may not even notice it anymore.   But, if you watched even one track race or boxing match at this year’s London Olympics you will have noticed that athletes from all across the globe were sporting the Nike ‘Volt’ Flyknit; a neon yellow/green shoe scientifically engineered to draw our attention.

The brilliantly colored shoe was carefully tested.  Nike held focus groups of amateur, college and professional athletes and found that the bold color was well received.  The brain behind the shoe concept, Nike’s global creative director for the Olympics, Martin Lotti says, “It’s the most-visible color to the human eye.”  The Nike project team also evaluated the shade of the shoes against all environments they would interact with: the red of the track, the blue and white palette of the fencing stage and the blue and black in the boxing ring.

According to Advertising Age, Lotti also designed the Flyknit with a neon palette to create a “Team Nike” effect.  Oftentimes, it’s the simplest marketing tools that are the most ingenious.  “Nike’s move was really clever. They used marketing assets that belonged to them alone, and those assets gave them a pretty unique opportunity to take advantage of the Olympic rules,” said Kent Grayson, professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “The best marketing usually plays with the rules without quite going too far — striking the right balance between the two is really hard and often risky but Nike got it perfectly this time.”

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