When I saw Nike as my first Cannes award to analyze, I was pretty excited. I’ve heard a lot about the Nike FuelBand. I assumed it was deserving of awards just after hearing ‘Nike.’ I mean, Nike does have a lot of good advertisements including the recent “Find your greatness” campaign. But after thinking about this a bit, I’m not so sure the FuelBand belongs in this awards show. I guess it helps to know the criteria for the Cyber Lions 2012 award, but we’ll have to move forward without it.
From a creative perspective, there’s really nothing flashy or inspiring about the product’s promotion. One ad on the Nike site shows athletes with their Fuel Points measurements increasing as they perform, and another simply shows the band with voiceover features. Another ad is more developed with energetic music, trendy bright neon colors, quick action shots cut by branded Nike block letters. The cartoon character appearances hint that any activity can be measured, no matter how crazy. This ad is a little more exciting, but Apple iPod commercials can do just as well.
The product itself is something to marvel… if you haven’t heard of it’s predecessor, the Nike Plus iPod Sport Kit. The transition isn’t mind-blowing; the Sport Kit measures activity, and so does the FuelBand. Yipee. But from a developer’s and a community creator’s viewpoint, the FuelBand is revolutionary. The FuelBand can measure and compare physical activity across numerous sports. Where the Sport Kit and your phone’s GPS-based apps measure a single activity and form communities of a single sport, Nike found a way to unite and motivate athletes across the board. The product encourages each user to become more physically active, and it unites people no matter their background. For this, I think Nike won the award.
But does it fall into the marketing/advertising digital sector? Is it asking you to purchase Nike, or to simply exercise? Because last time I checked, the act of playing sports belongs to nobody. The FuelBand asks people to exercise, not purchase Nike’s product. Shoot, judging by the above commercial, it just asks people to move. I like that everybody can participate, no matter their flavor of activity. The FuelBand’s absence of exclusitivity to sports gives Nike the ability to penetrate markets they don’t even merchandise in yet. I’ll give some FuelPoints for that.
I understand they’re creating a community that becomes more loyal to their brand as the brand becomes more beneficial to the user, which in turn will generate sales. I can respect that too. Perhaps that’s the marketing aspect that qualifies it as a Cannes digital nominee, along with the fact that it could be the sneakiest way to collect the most amount of user-specific activity-based data ever. Yes, Nike won an award for erasing lines lumping athletes and dancers into one bucket they call a community. But they had to create a product to do it.
Product photos from Nike.com