Word Count: 3144When I learned that I had to write this research paper, instead of procrastinating, I convinced myself to JUST DO IT. This phrase also happens to be one of the signature phrases of the leading athletic apparel company, Nike. The JUST DO IT campaign has been very successful for Nike, but it is not he sole reason for their success. Nikes campaign has definitely persuaded me to go out and buy a few Nike products. So what exactly does Nikes persuasive campaign consist of? This paper will discuss all aspects of Nikes persuasive campaign. Some of the campaigns strategies, goals, and techniques will be revealed. Some persuasive theories that can be applied to the Nike advertising campaign will be identified and explained. After discussing these theories, the specific arguments of the campaign will be validated. Overall, the entire campaign will be analyzed and it will be determined whether the campaign is a success or a failure.
The purpose of a campaign is to deliver a prospective consumer to the point of sale. Nike uses what is classified as a product oriented advertising campaign. Nikes entire campaign is centered on convincing the consumer to purchase their product. The goal of most product campaigns is to educate and prepare the consumer to exhibit purchasing behavior, so that their company may become the leader in its market. Since Nike is already the leading athletic apparel company, their goal is probably to stay on top. Some of the major strategies used to achieve this goal are the use of television, magazine, and Internet advertisements.
The developmental stages of a successful campaign help to establish the product in the audiences mind or consciousness. The stages of the Nike campaign can be described by using the Yale Five-Stage Developmental Model.Yale researchers developed this model while observing the growth of national identity. The first stage of this model is identification. Our text states that Many products and causes develop a graphic symbol or logotype to create identification in the audiences mind (p. 264, Larson). The logo Nike is most famous for is The Swoosh. This is the term given to the symbol of winged victory that appears on Nike products. The design of the swoosh logo was inspired by the wing from the Greek goddess Nike (p. 3, http://shrike.depaul.edu /~mcoscino/word.html). The Nike logos presence can be noted in almost every aspect of the athletic world. An internet article documents this presence by stating, In every room of every house, in every city of every state, in every country is the check mark better known as the swoosh and even better known as the Nike symbol that is worth billions of dollars (p.1, http://www.ga.k12.pa.us/academics/MS//7th/ulshafer/berman/essay.htm).Another important aspect of identification is the name associated with the product. The name Nike came from Greek mythology. Nike is the Greek personification of victory. She can run and fly at great speed (p. 1, http://www.pantheon.org/mythica/articles/n/nike.html). Therefore, Nikes entire being revolves around victory. The Just Do It slogan, which was introduced by Nike in February 1995, would also fall under identification. This is one of Nikes most successful campaign ads. Well as it turns out, Just Do It wasnt too harsh. It was, in its cultural and commercial impact, along with Marlboro cigarettes and Volkswagen, one of the three greatest ad campaigns in American history (p.47, Garfield). In 1998, Nike came up with a new slogan I Can. This slogan was a flop and was soon discarded.The second stage of this model is legitimacy, which shows that the product is effective. Nike has legitimized its campaign by getting well-known individuals to support its product. Nikes most famous supporter is Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player ever, and therefore easily convinces the consumer that Nike must be the best product if he has chosen it. Participation is the third stage of this model, and this would consist of the involvement or support from uncommitted persons. The advertising of Nike by stores, who are not committed to only Nike, would fall into this category. For example, even though Foot Locker sells almost every athletic shoe there is, it features only Nike in many of its advertisements in magazines. Stage four, which is penetration, means that the product has successfully cornered an area of the market. As a result, other companies may try to market a replica of the product. Nike has definitely cornered the market in athletic apparel. Nike has created a power brand in the athletic market. Nike was the first shoe manufactuer to enter the clothing realm. Nike raced ahead of the pack by exploiting its brand power to move from athletics footwear into athletics clothing, turning itself into a aymbol of fitness and well-being (p. 24, Court). Other shoe manufactuers caught onto this trend and developed their own line of athletic clothing. The last stage of the model is distribution. The campaign needs to be able to deliver or live up to the promises made. In this final stage, the campaign succeeds and becomes institutionalized. The campaign must be able to give back to those who have supported it. Nike does this with rebates, coupons, and incentives for store owners. Nike also does not have a problem with replacing or reimbursing the consumer if there is a problem with their purchase.
One of the first theories discussed in our text that can be applied to Nikes persuasive campaign is the Aristotelian Theory. This theory was developed by Aristotle, a great librarian and researcher of Greece. The theorys development was based on Aristotles observation or persuaders at work in Athens. This theory consists of three parts, which are ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos deals with the credibility or reputation of the advertisee. Nike always picks people that have an ethos that would appeal to the viewer. Much of Nikes clout comes from its ability to round up some of the worlds best competitors to endorse its gear (p. 64, Miller). Nike is able to sell this concept to the consumer, by using testimonials from athletes that are the best in their sport. This does not always mean that the athletes they choose to endorse their products are angels. Its not afraid to bring controversial athletes into its stable. Example: basketball bad boy Charles Barkley, who has spat on fans at an NBA game. After the incident Nike ignored the bad manners and put him on TV saying, Im not a role model (p. 64). Pathos addresses the emotional state of the audience, and is the second part of the theory. Our text states that In todays terms, pathos equates with psychological appeals. Persuaders assess the emotional state of one audience and design aartistic appeals aimed at those states (p. 60, Larson). Pathos consists of virtues or values. A good example of how Nike used an ad to tap into the audiences emotion was a 1995 advertisement featuring a runner named Ric Munoz. The ad is described in an article in the magazine Runners World. The article states, Eight months ago, Nike contacted Munoz a 37-year old Los Angelas runner who was diagnosed HIV positive in 1987. Purpose of the call: Nike wanted Munoz to appear in one of its Just Do It ads. The 30-second spot intersperses shots of Munoz on a trail run with black-and-white placards. They read: 80miles every week! Then 10 marathons every year. And finally: HIV-positive (p. 12, Dugard). Even though this was a controversial issue, it was well received by the viewers. According to Nike spokesman Keith Peters, the ad aired 269 times on national TV by mid-April and received a 74 percent approval rating from viewers (p.12). The final component of this theory is Logos. Logos appeals to the intellect or the rational side of humans. Logos relies on the audiences ability to process statistical data, examples or testimony in logical ways and to arrive at some conclusion (p. 61, Larson). A simple example of this is an advertisement in which Nike shows a plunger and a pair of their shoes side by side. The caption on the advertisement reads Always gets the job done. Nike uses examples how other objects perform and relate this function to their product. In a simple way the viewers can logically assemble the information and come to a conclusion about the product.
Another theory that can be associated with the Nike campaign is the Mass-media effects theory. This theory can be separated in three parts. The first part is by sharing a common pool of experience we become vulnerable to distortion and propaganda (p. 88, Larson). The common pool of experience is that most people enjoy watching or participating in sports. The viewer is then able to associate with one of the best in their favorite sport by buying the same products. The second part of this theory is that we are selective about the media messages to which we expose ourselves (p.88). The consumer wants to be a winner. The Nike advertisements allow the viewer to associate with one of the best in their favorite sport, and possibly be like them by buying the same products. The last part of this theory is that Mass-mediated messages have become so pervasive that we are on the verge of being overwhelmed by them (p. 88). This is definitely true when it comes to the swoosh.Evidently Nike was aware of this, because they have lightened up a little on the swoosh. A 1998 article in Sports Illustrated states, Well the sports world is about to get a little de-swooshed. Not only has the company announced that it plans to cut endorsement spending on pro athletes by $100 million per year, but it is also said to be planning to curtail the use of the swoosh on many of its retail products. Instead of being displayed prominently on nearly all items, the swoosh would appear in smaller sizes (retailers have started to refer to a baby swoosh) in lighter shades, in less prominent locationsor not at all (p.32, McCallum).
Within the Mass-Media Effects Theory is the Technological Determinism Theory, which is also evident in the Nike campaign. This theory maintains that the technology of any given era is the major determinant of the cultural patterns of that era (p. 88, Larson). This is evident in Nikes use of technology in some of its advertisements. Nike is an example of how to put together an integrated marketing campaign with the TV and the Internet playing to their own and each others strengths. The fast-action TV commercials from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., are cliff-hangers that urge viewers to find out how the spot ends at whatever.nike.com. People who do go to the site to find a multimedia bonanza and can watch video clips of several different endings (p. 74, Carmichael).
The Uses and Gratification Theory can also be applied to Nikes persuasive campaign. This theory assumes that receivers have various needs, ranging from low-order basic needs, such as food, shelter, or sex, to high-order, complex needs, such as self-identity (p. 90, Larson). The effects of this theory relies on the audience actively searching for a satisfaction of their needs through the media. An originator of this theory, Jay Blumler, identified four needs that influence people to look to the media.
The first need is surveillance, which is the necessity to keep track of the environment. Nike takes advantage of this need by coming out with new designs and products that people feel they need to have in order to keep up with the times. Curiosity is the second need, and it deals with discovery and previously unknown information. A perfect example of Nike addressing this need is the whatever.nike.com marketing scheme. This consists of a commercial that begins on TV, but you have to go to the website to see the ending. Many people who do not even plan to buy Nike products may visit this website out of sheer curiosity. Thirdly, this theory consists of a need of diversion or the need to escape. Nike sponsers many activities that people can participate in that can help them get away from the stresses of their everyday life. An article in American Fitness, describes how one woman attended a Just Do It For You fitness and fashion workshop co-hosted by Nike. The speaker was the founder of Jazzercise, Judi Missett. The author of the article writes, Missetss inspirational words were followed by a video preview of the latest Nike advertising campaign, a lively and spirited focus on the healthy integration of mind, body and spirit. Nikes fitness message all started with running, the campaign says, but remember the running is toward fulfillment, towards dreams come true (p. 3, Ferrari). Nike taps into the desires of the attendents of the workshop desire to do something for themselves, and according to the author the workshop was very effective. The last component of the uses and gratification theory is the need for personal identity. This is the need that Nike seems to try to appeal to the most. This need deals with the consumer wanting to have a sense of identity or belonging. This sense of identity may come from role models we see on television, from political views written in newspapers, or from a certain type of music that we listen to and identify with our own lifestyle (p. 92, Larson).
Nikes major argument for their campaign is that wearing their shoes will enhance ones performance. In order to prove their argument Nike uses Effect-to-Cause Reasoning. They show you the effect first, which is running the fastest or jumping the highest. Then they show you the cause, which is the wearing of their shoes. I think this has a very positive and successful effect, because everyone wants to perform at the highest level. Ultimately, audiences are able to identify with personal experiences, and when persuaders tap into these experiences, the result is a positive one.
Nikes campaign has been very successful over the years.. In the past it has put out stunning numbers For example, an article in the magazine Advertising Age reflects some of Nikes numbers during the year of 1998. It states The company has since gone from an 18% share of the domestic sport-shoe business to 43%, from $877 million in worldwide sales to $9.2 billion (p.1, Garfield). These are very significant numbers and are proof that Nikes persuasive campaign is very successful. However, Nike began to see a drop in sales in the companys third quarter of 1998. The Asia economic crisis, brown shoes, resignations, and boring ads resulted in soft markets, sagging future orders, and sliding economies. Now Nike is a $9.5 billion company trying to get to $15 billion with a management team that is stretched too thin. If management of Nike wants to make Nike a $15 billion company, Nike has to make adjustments to the problems that the company faced in fiscal 1998 (p. 27, http://shrike.depaul.edu /~mcoscino/word.html).
In order for Nike to be able to continue to stay on top, the problems referred to above must be addressed. They must try to correct the Asia crisis as best as possible and wait for it to pass. Also, the trend of younger people buying brown shoes has caused the sales of the athletic shoe to decrease. Nike has to fight this trend by creating athletic shoes that are cheaper and show more individuality. Rather than trying to come up with new physical innovations to their products, Nike is changing its marketing through a program called Alpha. Under this new program, Nike will market its most expensive apparel, sporting goods, and sneaker products as a unit. Nike will use Alpha Athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, who will be dressed in Nike from head to toe.
This line of clothing is described in an article in Time magazine, The first of those is brand Jordan, whose Jumpman logo has replaced the swoosh on those famous sneakers. Nike expects to sell $300 million in Jordan merchandise in fiscal 1998 and considers the brand to have billion-dollar potential. And Nike is creating a golf division around its $40 million swinger, Woods. He has his own brand, aimed at younger, more athletic golfers, and his togs carry his own logo, a swirling yin-yang emblem designed to reflect his Buddhist beliefs as well as his club speed. Another line, Nike Classic Golf, will target the country-club set (p. 6, Saporito).
After looking at the numbers Nike has put up in the past, I believe that they do have a successful campaign. Even with the drop of sales, they are still leading in sales in the athletic footwear and clothing industry.
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