<context> I missed the Twitter debate, but it was still interesting to see the two perspectives shared by Karthik and L.Bhat on Nike’s ‘Bleed Blue’ campaign. Bhat’s initial post was a good summing up of the campaign, and what made it work. Karthik’s contention was that Nike did not deserve credit primarily because it was “tightly associated with the team’s performance” – an external occurrence. There were other reasons too, but I gathered that this was the crux of it. The contrasting example was Pepsi’s Hoo Haa – Blue Billion effort during the 2006 Champions Trophy. In a second post, Bhat also acknowledged a correlation (between the campaign’s and India’s success) and rightly (IMO) stated that the campaign’s intent centred around ‘garnering support for Team India….’ and ‘portraying a positive, confident attitude about Team India…’ Also, as he points out, it stayed away from any ‘player superhero’ association or a ‘we will win the cup’ stance. </context>
This debate was also interesting from the perspective of what I wrote last week – brand identity and real time. But before we get there, my 2 cents on the debate. I would also credit Nike for the same reasons Bhat stated – strategy, product integration and ease of participation (execution). That is what separates it from say a ‘Pallu scoop’, which is fun and pure recall, or a ‘Get Idea’, which still hasn’t given me an idea of how it’s keeping cricket clean. [yes, they aren't apples, but they were the other hugely visible campaigns]
Big ticket result-based events (including movies, which Karthik has mentioned) is a risk-reward game because there really isn’t any data that allows you to place sure-shot bets. But the way I see it, you can place a successful bet, and still not gain enough mileage (bad erm, ideas, bad execution etc). Nike got it right, and there was some hard work involved.
Come to think of it, I wonder if there’s any other approach Nike could’ve taken, especially since they were the official apparel sponsors. Look at the competition – Adidas had a Tendulkar ad and Reebok had nothing. It was a ‘once in 4 years’ opportunity and they seized it. India winning the cup was a key factor in the campaign’s success, but not the only one. Also, I don’t know if they had a back up plan – a “we’ll be back in 2015″, “thank you for giving it your best shot”, “bled to death”. Ok, not the last one, but you get the idea. Maybe they did and would’ve come out smelling like roses anyway. In any case, the efficacy of the campaign is probably best decided after it ends. In this case, it made Nike the buzz brand with other heavyweights in the fray, including the mighty Zoozoos. (Loved them though)
Meanwhile, by design or not, Nike’s approach was also quite a “Just Do it” one. (hindsight/retrofit) From the last post’s perspective, I wonder how much/whether that identity played a part in the design and success of the campaign. But on big events, celebrity endorsements etc, going forward, real time management of campaigns will increasingly become a requirement, thanks to the instant feedback tools that exist. Perhaps brands should formulate ‘what if scenarios’ and corresponding approaches when they plan large scale campaigns, especially when it’s linked to events that don’t offer much support in the form of data. The other way is to scale after the relevant data comes in, but that would involve quite an execution effort.
until next time, blue positive
PS: Nike, next time, stadium checkins and a Bleed Blue 4sq badge too please