Nike: I Would Run To You

Now back to Advertising…

Nike. I’m pretty sure if you have ever attended advertising, marketing, public relations, or business class in your lifetime, you have heard about all that is the colossal brand Nike. They have gone through so many transformations that it is hard to count; all of which have been successful.

I have the fortunate luxury to attend the University of Oregon and we like to call our very lucrative donor Uncle Phil; an endearing term of course. As an effect, we are surrounded by the Nike brand everywhere we go, whether it is Autzen Stadium or Student Recreation Center.

I feel compelled to write a blog post concerning the new Nike Campaign, “I Would Run To You.” The commercial spot is very entertaining. On one side, there is a physically attractive female putting on her running gear that is all Nike brand.  On the other side, a man, her boyfriend, gets ready for a run also, but the difference is that he is not wearing Nike clothes or running shoes.  Gleaning from the name of the campaign and the song they both sing, they run from far distances to each other, one succeeds while the other fails. I bet you can guess who succeeds. Yes, the woman running in the Nike apparel prevails, thus demonstrating the strength of the brand.

The message they want to point out is that Nike will get you to wherever you want to go whether it is your boyfriend in the next town or down the block to the market. Of course, Nike has the means to display this message in a creative and enticing way so they did. This television spot is exceptional and brings in some humor to gain viewers.

As far as I am concerned, Nike can never go wrong. As long as it stays innovative and ever changing, which it has thus far, it will continue to be a powerhouse.


Crooked Arrow??

To take a break from industry talk, here is a post unrelated to advertising.

I am a member of US Lacrosse, which is a “national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, primarily serving the youth game, and committed to providing a leadership role in virtually every aspect of the game.” With this being said, as a coach, I receive frequent emails form the US Lacrosse regarding lacrosse news and promotions. I was startled to receive one email regarding a lacrosse movie coming out soon. I was initially astonished at the fact that the movie industry was actually coming out with a lacrosse film, the first of its kind, but then I was even more baffled when I discovered the plot.

The movie will follow a native American lacrosse team emerge through adversity of a sport that has in recent years, been run by primarily upper middle class white traditions. A fact that I will point out is that the sport of lacrosse initially started out with the Native Americans years and years ago and this movie is pointing out the significance of this institution.  This is cool and all, although extremely cliché. Every sports movie includes some sort of “underdog” and his/her unlikely dominance over the whoever is #1. This movie falls into that category. One of the trailers even demonstrates a direct comparison to those great sports movies like Rudy and Remember the Titans.

The underdog, in this case, a group of misfit Native Americans, learns how to take pride in their tribe. Their goal is to bring the sport back to their people.

Lacrosse has become the nations fastest growing sport.  Both women and men engage in play at mostly high school and collegiate levels. The NCAA now acknowledges the sport more and more and it is nice to see that lacrosse is slowing entering the mainstream media with the release of the new movie.

Archetypes in Branding

Brands are becoming more and more like people.  Like a person, a brand has a name, personality, character, and reputation. Brands need to be honest and trusting. They have to build relationships with their consumers in order to build that trust. Once consumers trust the brand, they will be faithful and buy that brand and that brand only. If that brand makes a mistake and breaks that trust, they will have to work to build it up again; just like people.

As advertising people, we are constantly trying to figure out what people are thinking. It would be nice to know that everyone in the world used the same thought process. In reality, rational people do not exist. People rather; think with their emotions and feelings. Brands need to consider the possible emotional connection they can make with their target markets.

Jung’s Archetypal Theory can apply to brand thinking when considering brands as people. According to this school of thought, images of a collective nature can appear all over the world manifested as different types of “myths.” These images are depicted as people that tell stories about the emotion they displayl. There are 12 “master” archetypes.

  • Hero
  • Magician
  • Outlaw
  • Jester
  • Lover
  • Everyman
  • Caregiver
  • Ruler
  • Creator
  • Innocent
  • Sage
  • Explorer

Brands can fall into these different categories with the stories that they want to express and whom they appeal to.  For example, the brand Johnson and Johnson would be considered a “care giver.” This brand creates a sense of family and care for all parents. Parents want to provide for their families and Johnson and Johnson is a brand that can help them do that. This company has built trust through the quality of the product and corporate social responsibility they offer the community.

This is a great way to consider who your audience is. Brands have to adhere to their constituents, who in most cases are consumers, and they must be actively listening to the environment to achieve this bottom line. Brands are like people. They tend to have trouble making up their minds and this way of thinking is helpful when considering how to address this.

The Six Thinking Hats

The 6 hats of thinking refer to an exercise that professionals can partake in when they are feeling stuck. In my eyes, this technique can be used most effectively in all aspects of the creative process. Creative directors find themselves stuck at a wall so often, especially when they feel as though they have been using the same routine answers to agency problems.  The 6 thinking hats can help these people solve creative problems as well as problems that have nothing to do with advertising or branding. Edward de Bono created this tool in his book “6 Thinking Hats.”

To effectively use this tool, you must consider all hats. This way, most all perspectives are exemplified and displayed. Each ‘Thinking Hat’ is a different style of thinking. The 6 hats are explained as follows:

  • The White Hat – This thinking hat makes you focus on the information that you already have. Once you have this together, you can consider the gaps and where more information is needed
  • The Red Hat – This hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. This provides emotional and gut reaction to what is at hand.  This also gives perspectives on other people’s reactions.
  • The Black Hat – This thinking hat has to do with judgment. You take this hat and look at all the problems that could arise or that already exist. This makes your plan more resilient to critics. Also known as the devil’s advocate.
  • The Yellow Hat  – This thinking hat is the opposite of the black hat. It focuses on the positive aspects of what you are doing. You are optimistic when you are using this hat.
  • The Green Hat– This hat signifies the creative. This hat is used to develop creative solutions to the problems at hand. This gives the opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions.
  • The Blue Hat – The blue hat is used to manage the thinking process. It is how you control this whole exercise as a whole.

I first heard of these thinking hats in my Curiosity for Strategists class from a teacher I respect incredibly much. This thought process intrigued me because you can use it in any line of work to get around a wall; even in life situations when you are hit with a problem. I feel as though these hats are a thorough example of how the creative process can be even more successful.

Alouette je te Plumerai

I’m sure everyone has seen the new Target television spot “Color Changes Everything” that includes that catchy little French tune “Allouette.“ I first heard this song when I was in pre-school. When I first saw this commercial, I wondered, why did they choose this song?

I find it necessary to describe what the ad exemplifies so that everyone is on the same page. A hot air balloon draws closer to the middle of a city backdrop. The city is seemingly grey which contrasts with the bright colored red balloon approaching. This automatically draws your eye to the color. Out of the hot air balloon, springs brightly and vividly dressed individuals performing acrobatic tricks to move about the city. Everything and everyone they touch turns to color, completely changing the dull world they live in for the better. Throughout this fun and entertaining clip, the song “allouette” is playing.

At first I just looked at the connection superficially and thought that they choose a song in a different language to show that they are sophisticated and worldly, to coordinate with their target audience; an audience that wants more than just a product. This was not something Wal-Mart, one of Target’s biggest competitors, would do. It just wouldn’t work. This could definitely be one of the reasons for choosing this French/Canadian song.  Or what if they just found that this song worked with the tone they wanted to present. This also could have been a contributing factor.

Although these conclusions could be correct, I needed to go deeper and find out what the song really meant. Target marketing executives would not just use this song on a whim; there is so much research involved in creating these commercials. Everything is scrutinized.

I found that the song actually had multiple layers of meaning, and when joined with the video could relay a strong message. The song when spoken in English means “Lark, nice lark. Lark, I shall pluck you.” Surprising right? In Europe, people would think Larks as pesky birds that woke them up when they least expected. This was the reasoning behind the “plucking.” This could indicate a meaning for the video as a wake up call. Where is the color world? Time to wake up and realize that you need to go to Target to get some color in your life.

Another interesting find is that this song usually involves audience participation, with the audience echoing every line of each verse after the verse’s second line. It is considered a community song. Each verse builds on top of the previous verses, similar to the Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Everyone knows that one. The people that excitedly spring out of the hot air balloon run through the city creating color. They intend on building color in that community. Target as a brand is very reliable and intertwined into the community. Just like the song builds on itself, the people form the ad build color and move throughout the city, until it is time to go unto the next city, where they will build color yet again.

This may be a stretch but makes for an interesting perspective. The Target “Color Changes Everything” commercial is one of my favorite commercials thus far this year and I have definitely gone to Target because of it.

The “Freaks” of K-Swiss

In the past two years, K-Swiss has embarked on a multi-million dollar journey to rebrand their company. It all started back in 2011 when they wanted to launch their new line of performance running shoes called the “Tubes”. The creation of the Kenny Powers K-Swiss spot definitely got heads to turn. Mine turned; that’s for sure.

In 2012, they are re-emerging tailing the end of that campaign with a new look, a much more genuine look. Instead of running with the comedic attitude that Powers brought to the brand, they spun it to a more authentic and everyday feel.  Mile 9, the ad agency working on this, calls the campaign “We’re Freaks For The Run.”

These new ads depict runners living their everyday lives; running through the sprinklers, running on suburb sidewalks, all the while wearing their new and improved product. The television spots, which are scheduled to air later this year, are said to be extremely simple and effortless, which correspond with the print ads. The ads are meant to convey a very simple message meant to be received by avid runners and athletes – that the shoes “will ruin your life” because they are so good. It’s evident that K-Swiss is taking a risk, but as I said in prior blog posts, the bigger the risk; the bigger return.

In his blog post for Adweek, Tim Nudd opened my eyes to this idea and further enlightened me on the insight that K-Swiss is finally addressing a real audience. Through this ad campaign, K-Swiss could possibly be informing its target market and then some about the fact that they “get it.”  They in fact have “freaks for running” on staff that understand. They are ready and willing to compete with the powerhouses of Nike and Adidas, but they still have the room to play with different ideas such as these. Nudd believes that this is one giant step forward for the sports apparel industry. I guess only time will tell.


Charlie Robertson

Yesterday, my Creative Strategist Ad Class heard from Mr. Charlie Robertson, a brilliant mind in the world of branding. This Scotland native brought enthusiasm and excitement through visuals and storytelling to our classroom. Needless to say, he captured all of our attention.

Robertson works for an independent brand consultancy firm called Red Spider.  This firm works for brand owners and their agents to fix problems due to branding issues. It was founded in the UK in 1994 and has been thriving ever since.

While working for this brand consultancy firm, Robertson found many predicaments with the level of understanding employees of various advertising agencies had regarding branding.  Because he was now speaking in front of a classroom of 250 advertising students, he took it upon himself to inform us of these problems so that in our futures as advertising people, we can mend the gaps.

As I was sitting there with the utmost attention, I found that one of his statements stuck in my memory above others.  He said, “brand expression only goes wrong in three different places: strategy, idea and execution.” He went on to explain. All of these could go wrong at the same time depending on the objectives you set forth. There needs to be focus and drive in all three.

Brands are like nests. It’s a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer. It’s all about the consumer. So much research needs to be done in order to actually reach out to the target market you want and need to survive. Your brand is your reputation and how people view you. Brands offer a promise to customers, shareholders, employees, and suppliers. They create trust. Without this trust, you have nothing but the price of your product. These were the reasons he gave for the importance of branding. The greater the risk you take, the greater the return you receive. I couldn’t agree more.