Nike’s #makeitcount Campaign – The power of the brand and social media

The world’s biggest sporting brand has launched it’s annual campaign driven by the force of social media. All athletes, including runners have been asked to tell Nike and the rest of the world how they are going to “make 2013 count”. The campaign, endorsed by a number of Olympic and world athletes and titled with the infamous Twitter hashtag has attracted thousands to sign up. Motivational images such as the ones below are leading the movement to encourage athletes to sign up and connect with the rest of the world about their sporting goal for the next 12 months.

Take a look to see how the running community got together in New York for #makeitcount 2012 last year (how I would’ve loved to have been there!). It portrays so well the power of the Nike brand and as well how social media in isolation has it’s own power to bring people with similar interests together.

The#makeitcount campaign doesn’t just involve athletes to pledge their sporting goals for this year, it gives a general message of doing something more active with your life. This has been introduced to coincide with the release of the Nike+ fuel band which retails at around £129 and basically tracks how “fuelled” up you are on activity (and adrenalin). Take a look at this amazing video, made by Casey Neistate, an American film producer about how he is making this year count:

(My heart literally stopped when he jumped from that waterfall)

Casey’s video which is full of energy and motivation is exactly the kind of marketing Nike have so successfully involved themselves with. Marketing and positioning of a brand has become ever more essential in the age of the social media revolution and the citizen journalist. Making their brand about people and experiences and allowing them to share those in a world wide community rather than another dreary product focused advertising campaign is something Nike has perfected over the past decade.

Few more #makeitcount pacts from Nike’s Facebook page:

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However, Nike have not lost sight of the importance of high quality products and the way these are marketed and released has also proven vital to their success. The introduction of their Nike Free trainer just as the phenomenon of minimal and barefoot running started to take off is a clever and successful move.

They have managed to consistently make their profits rise year on year – they recorded a $24.1 billion revenue in 2012 and adapting their products to fall in line with changing trends and fashion has proven to be the magical formula to ensure this keeps happening. How even after thirty years and in a global economic downturn, people continue buying Nike gear and everyone wants to be seen in it is a massive achievement. And I don’t see it changing any time soon. Bravo Nike.
Will you be #makingitcount this year?

Happy Running.

K

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A not so level playing field? Doping in women’s running

In the run up to the London 2012 Olympics, controversy surrounding doping in professional athletics dominated the news. Dwain Chambers’ possible comeback to the games after serving an Olympic lifetime ban after testing positive for steroids in 2003 sparked a plethora of opinion on the internet and most interestingly, from fellow competing athletes.

Furthermore, what was not expected to surface half way through the games were serious allegations of doping across the board, including athletes claiming it being the reason behind Usain Bolt’s incredible performance.

Lance Armstrong

Illegal performing enhancing drugs have been used across many sports and by many athletes over the years. Lance Armstrong was hounded for over a decade with allegations of doping since his return to cycling following cancer. He fought for years to protect his reputation of 7 times Tour de France winner and all time greatest cyclist, until just a month ago, he was branded as being part of “the most sophisticated, professionalised, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen”. He had a lifetime ban imposed upon him for the allegations to be proven true by the International Cycling Union following further claims from fellow riders.

What I recognise from reading about these stories is a culture of serial doping among professional athletes. Most notably, the world 1500m Moroccan marathon runner Mariem Alaoui Selsouli was banned just four days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic games.

Mariem

Having just returned from a previous doping ban less than a year before and being tipped for gold in London, Selsouli tested positive for performance enhancing drugs including diuretic furosemide and she was expelled from the games.

This has nothing to do with healthy competition. The drugs must be so readily available that nowadays it is simply too easy to take a few shortcuts to be the best. To be a successful athlete takes time – and so does being successful in any profession for that matter. Half of the satisfaction which comes from a victory is defined by effort – the time and resources invested in you getting to that position in the first place. Taking the easy route and coming out on top in sport must be a very dissatisfying feeling – which is probably why athletes persevere in the culture of doping in the hope of eventually finding true success – but it never comes.

You would think the fear of never being able to compete for your country again would be a sober enough thought to ensure people are put off. Great runners like Paula Radcliffe are leading anti-doping campaigns in an effort to emphasise how these days, athletes do not know if they are competing on a level playing field because of the complexities of the substances and the fairly lackadaisical doping system which exists at the moment.

This is not a culture which can be resolved quickly, but if this continues, it will become inherent in the system of athletics and the values of traditional competition will be lost forever. If the Olympic legacy is to continue for the next generation, athletes must collectively object against the ethos of drug taking until tougher legislation is introduced. In order for younger people and wider society to rebuild trust in the sport, this is a necessity.