A Nimble Nike at the 2012 Olympics

Jack Blog

August 14th, 2012 By Jack Morton

For me, seeing what work brands put out during the Olympics is just as fun as seeing the thousands of Olympic athletes compete.

Fine, not really – but it is entertaining. P&G is back with its “Thank You, Mom” campaign (first launched at the Vancouver 2010 games), Visa is encouraging viewers to cheer for specific athletes through social media as part of its “Go World” campaign, and Coca-Cola is tying music and sports together in its “Move to the Beat” ads. While those are all respectable campaigns with respectable work, they don’t impress me as much as one of Nike’s recent tweet-turned-local-print-ad.

Paula Radcliffe, an elite marathon runner from Great Britain, was forced to pull out of this year’s marathon due to a foot injury. Ms. Radcliffe made the decision not to run on July 29, which restricted her from promoting any brand she was associated with that wasn’t an official Olympics sponsor. That meant Nike.

Quick on its feet (pun intended), Nike brilliantly tweeted this the same day Radcliffe withdrew from the event:


Let me tell you why I think this is great. First, it falls in line with Nike’s current “Find Your Greatness” campaign. Second, it shows the host country some love. Third, it is especially appreciated by running enthusiasts, who retweeted the message and who know that Radcliffe really is a legend. She currently holds the world record for the women’s marathon and has won the London and New York marathons three times since 2000. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates that the brand acts as a verb rather than a noun. Rather than standing idle, the brand quickly transformed a devastating event into a real moment of greatness, both for a runner and for her fans.