By Allan Brettman
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
Nike launched an advertising campaign Sunday night to boost its women’s footwear and apparel sales.
Dubbed #BetterForIt, the campaign is Nike’s latest effort to boost sales in the so-called “athleisure” category among women that also has been targeted by competitors Under Armour and Lululemon. It debuted with a 60-second ad during the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night.
#BetterForIt is expected to help Nike make good on its nearly 2-year-old prediction that the brand would grow to $7 billion annually in women’s footwear and apparel sales by June 2016. The category totaled nearly $5 billion for the 12 months through last June.
Late last year, Nike opened women’s-only stores in Shanghai, China, and in Newport Beach, California.
The commercial launched Sunday night features everyday people, not well-known athletes, as they participate in yoga, spinning, running and weight training.
Sports brands usually employ well-known athletes to deliver the brand message. But not this time. Nike used the same approach about 25 years ago when it launched its first women’s campaign.
And, like the campaign of so long ago, this one was produced by Wieden + Kennedy of Portland, with creative directors Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke and Dan Viens; copywriters Heather Ryder and Darcie Burrell; and art director Patty Orlando.
Kerri Hoyt-Pack, vice president of brand marketing of NikeWomen and Global Women’s Training, answered e-mailed questions about the latest campaign. Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity:
Q: Besides the company website, please describe other platforms –YouTube, national tv, twitter, instagram, point of purchase, etc. — where the women’s campaign was introduced. Where else will consumers see #betterforit in the near future?
A: #betterforit lives primarily on the digital space, on Nike.com and on popular social media platforms like Youtube, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter around the world and platforms like Weibo and We Chat in Greater China. The current #betterforit film series runs globally until end of June, with an ongoing integrated campaign that will span into 2016. Consumers can expect to see a host of engagement points in the months to come, whether it’s through the continuation of the Nike Women Event Series which kicked off last month and will tour a total of 25 cities around the world through June hosting women’s races and N+TC Tour fitness moments, engagement at retail and at integration into key Nike brand and sporting moments.
Q: One of the striking things, for me, of the Nike print ads of 20-25 years ago is about how timeless their message is today. which may not be a good thing. What, really, has changed for the everyday women’s athlete of today compared to some two decades ago?
A: We pride ourselves on listening to the athlete. The authenticity of that voice is what rings throughout our campaigns over the last two decades. There is a consistency in how we understand her that rings true to the brand.
What we see now is a global appetite for sport and fitness among the everyday female athlete that didn’t exist in the same way two decades ago. It’s a part of her unlike ever before. Women’s only races are selling out within minutes and women are outpacing men both in gym membership and in running (women outnumbered men 54 percent in Nike Run Clubs over the past 12 months). Since we re-launched our Nike+ Training Club app in January, we are seeing the highest increased in usage coming from international markets like Russia, Brazil and South Korea, proof that this is truly a global phenomenon.
Q: Besides the variety of social media platforms available today compared to two decades ago, what has changed in the messaging to today’s female athlete?
A: #betterforit is about hearing the voice of the everyday girl — these women increasingly integrate fitness and sport into their daily activities. Today’s female athlete feels a wide range of emotions about athleticism, from confidence and joy to frustration and doubt. We wanted to feature everyday women and what they face every day in a candid, humorous and relatable way.
Q: True or false: Lululemon is responsible for the renewed emphasis by the big brands in pursuit of the women’s consumer. Please elaborate on your answer.
A: The incredible energy around women’s sport and fitness is a cultural shift, not a trend. We recognize that fitness is not just what she does, it’s who she is. Where Nike leads is with our unparalleled connection with athletes at every level — from the world’s greatest stadiums to the local gym, from professional athletes, to master trainers and coaches, to everyday athletes. That deep relationship provides us with the insights required to produce the most innovative performance product that transitions from the gym, running track or barre class to her everyday life. We don’t just serve women with an ad: we give them the information, inspiration, and actual tools they need to power their athletic journey.
Q: I noticed that womenswear — not just competition gear — will be among the products marketed in conjunction with the World Cup this year. Without discussing specifics of the World Cup products, can you say whether there are any planned tie-ins between #betterforit and this summer’s World Cup?
A: #betterforit is part of a long term initiative and is not tied to one singular product or sport moment. That said, as soccer’s most important tournament approaches, three U.S. Women’s National Team members will debut soccer-inspired Fitness Diary workouts as part of the Nike+ Training Club 90-Day Better For It Challenge this spring, with the first workout having launched last month with Christen Press. The challenge combines workouts from the popular Nike+ Training Club App and Nike+ Running App into a complete fitness program designed to increase endurance, build strength and get athletes of any level fitter, faster.
Q: Like a Nike women’s campaign of 25 years ago, the #BetterForIt campaign focuses on everyday athletes, not superstars. Are superstars-centered campaigns considered to be less effective with women?
A: #betterforit is rooted in the idea that inspiration can come from ordinary everyday life. For example, our athletes might find inspiration from a friend in a barre class, from Olympic athlete Allyson Felix, or by a stranger’s Instagram feed. This campaign encourages our extensive community of female athletes to tell their own stories, add their voices, live an active life, and inspire each other.
Q: Some news outlets have said Nike will spend the most ever on a women’s campaign in this iteration. True?
A: Nike does not release marketing spend related finance figures. What we can say is that this is our largest and most integrated women’s initiative to date. We see huge momentum and great opportunity for our Women’s business, with our women’s business outpacing men’s and tracking to $7 billion by fiscal year 2017. #betterforit speaks to our ongoing commitment to serving female athletes with an unrivaled richness and depth