Perhaps no company in the world has been as successful in capitalizing on the fitness boom of the past few decades as Nike. Since its inception
Nike has been a leader in the high-performance athletic-shoe market and has become one of the world's great brand names. The company ran past all its competitors to become the largest seller of athletic footwear and apparel in the world, with sales of nearly $10 billion in 2002. The Nike ethos of pure, brash performance is captured in the "Just Do It" slogan, which has become a catchphrase for the sports world and has been personified in advertising featuring some of the world's greatest athletes.
Nike is the overall leader in the $15.6 billion market for athletic shoes and apparel in the United States. However, the industry has been stagnant for years, and Nike, along with its com petitors, is looking for new growth opportunities and areas where the company can gain market share and attract first-time customers. One of the areas Nike is targeting is the women's market, which has been experiencing strong sales growth but has been the company's Achilles' heel. Women's athletic footwear accounts for one-third of the total industry sales and apparel for more than 50 percent, but women's products account for only 20 percent of Nike's revenue. Although the company has been selling shoes and apparel to women for years, Nike has been better known as a brand catering to male athletes and building its image around superstars such as Michael Jordan, Pete Sampras, Lance Armstrong, and Tiger Woods. These efforts have resulted in Nike's dominance of the male market, where the company has a 50 percent market share.
For much of its 30-year history, Nike has been about men and either treated women like men or didn't give them much attention. However, sometimes Nike did get it right in communicating with women. In 1995 the company ran a campaign titled "If You Let Me Play" that struck a responsive chord with many women. The campaign featured ads showing female athletes talking about how sports could change women's lives, from reducing teen pregnancy to increasing the chances of getting a college education. The campaign, along with subsequent ads featuring top female athletes such as sprinter Marion Jones, helped make Nike the market leader, but it was focused primarily on the high-performance segment of the female market.
In 2001 Nike launched a new strategic initiative termed "Nike Goddess," which is a companywide, grassroots effort that has the goal of changing how the company does business with women. The new strategy appeals to a broader segment of the female market and is designed to take advantage of the differences between women and men in how they conceive of sport, how they shop for clothing and shoes, and even how they view celebrity athletes. Nike wants to appeal more to women's desire for an active lifestyle than to any image they have of themselves as hard-core athletes.
Nike began its new women's movement by spending time listening to women and learning how they balance their lives, what they like to wear, where and how they shop, and what moves them. Nike designers and researchers spent time scouring trendy workout spots like London's Third Space to pick up on new fitness trends. One key insight that emerged from the research is that for most women, high performance isn't about sports; it's about fitness fitting in with their active lifestyles. Nike stepped up its product development and introduced flashier shoe designs such as the Air Max Craze, which has a strap for a heel and a zipper over the lace. Another new line, the Air Visi Havoc, features materials not normally seen on a playing field, such as a faux snakeskin look, baby-blue satin, and red mesh.
Nike Goddess also includes new ways to reach women and communicate better with them. A new ad campaign takes a different look at women and sports and veers away from Nike's traditional strategy of relying on big-name endorsers and producing product lines named after them. Jackie Thomas, Nike's U.S. brand marketing director for women, notes: "Women love that Nike is aggressive, that it is competitive. The difference between women and men is that women don't treat athletes like heroes. No woman thinks that she'll be able to run like Marion Jones because she wears shoes that are named after her." Rather than dwell on superstars, the new advertising campaign consists of print and TV ads that show ordinary women taking part in sport—from a swimmer to a young fencer to the "Yogini," a yoga instructor who stands on her hands on a hardwood floor and arches her back until her feet touch her head.
Nike has also launched a new website for women: nikegoddess.com. The site offers profiles of both famous athletes and everyday women who are trying to meet the challenges of balancing their hectic lives. It includes product information, health and fitness tips, city profiles to help women find fitness and fun when they are traveling, links to other sites, and online shopping for Nike products. Nike also launched NikeGoddess, the company's first "magalog" (a cross between a magazine and a catalog), to help roll out the name and communicate with today's active women.
One analyst noted that for many years, even within Nike there was a "general sense that it's by guys for guys." However, if Nike is to continue to grow, a company built on brash ads and male athletic fantasies is going to have to connect with female customers as well. The goal for the Nike Goddess initiative is to double Nike's sales to women by mid-decade. This will require that Nike change the way it sells to, designs for, and communicates with women. However, it appears that Nike is rising to the challenge. And lest anyone forget, Nike is named after a woman—the Greek goddess of victory.
Sources: Fara Warner, "Nike's Women's Movement," Fast Company, August 2002, pp. 70-75; Edward Wong, "Nike Trying New Strategies for Women," The New York Times, June 19, 2001, p. C1; Hillary Cassidy, "Hail the Goddess," Brandweek, Feb. 5, 2001, p. 42.
One of the most important components of an integrated marketing communications program is the advertising message. While the fundamental role of an advertising message is to communicate information, it does much more. The commercials we watch on TV or hear on radio and the print ads we see in magazines and newspapers are a source of entertainment, motivation, fascination, fantasy, and sometimes irrita-
tion as well as information. Ads and commercials appeal to, and often create or shape, consumers' problems, desires, and goals. From the marketer's perspective, the advertising message is a way to tell consumers how the product or service can solve a problem or help satisfy desires or achieve goals. Advertising can also be used to create images or associations and position a brand in the consumer's mind as well as transform the experience of buying and/or using a product or service. Many consumers who have never driven or even ridden in a BMW perceive it as "the ultimate driving machine" (Exhibit 8-1). Many people feel good about sending Hallmark greeting cards because they have internalized the company's advertising theme, "when you care enough to send the very best."
One need only watch an evening of commercials or peruse a few magazines to realize there are a myriad of ways to convey an advertising message. Underlying all of these messages, however, are a creative strategy that determines what the advertising message will say or communicate and creative tactics for how the message strategy will be executed. In this chapter, we focus on advertising creative strategy. We consider what is meant by creativity, particularly as it relates to advertising, and examine a well-known approach to creativity in advertising.
We also examine the creative strategy development process and various approaches to determining the big idea that will be used as the central theme of the advertising campaign and translated into attention-getting, distinctive, and memorable messages. Creative specialists are finding it more and more difficult to come up with big ideas that will break through the clutter and still satisfy the concerns of their risk-averse clients. Yet their clients are continually challenging them to find the creative message that will strike a responsive chord with their target audience.
Some of you may not be directly involved in the design and creation of ads; you may choose to work in another agency department or on the client side of the business. However, because creative strategy is often so crucial to the success of the firm's promotional effort, everyone involved in the promotional process should understand the creative strategy and tactics that underlie the development of advertising campaigns and messages, as well as the creative options available to the advertiser. Also, individuals on the client side as well as agency people outside the creative department must work with the creative specialists in developing the advertising campaign, implementing it, and evaluating its effectiveness. Thus, marketing and product managers, account representatives, researchers, and media personnel must appreciate the creative process and develop a productive relationship with creative personnel.
Exhibit 8-1 Excellent advertising helps create an image for BMW automobiles as "the ultimate driving machine"
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