Can Nike Get the Traditional + Social + Crowd Mix Right?

The problem with social campaigns is two-fold: agencies and brands alike think people actually want to do stuff for them. Additionally, they offer sucky rewards. As a result, we’re bombarded by photo contests using awkward interfaces that allow you to “share” the results on Facebook. Right... good luck with that. I openly mocked the first Nike Skateboarding line-up when it appeared in 2002. I couldn’t believe “the man” could connect with a counter-culture that seemed to disdain the hyperbole found in mainstream sports marketing. I was wrong, and sadly so. Fact is, what I believed to be its own unique subculture was in no way immune to the machine. Nike Chosen Website 72andSunny is working with Nike on the new Chosen campaign, and in spite of how weird I find the swoosh in all of this, my bet is that Nike has the social mix right for a few reasons: First, the campaign isn’t dependent on users. The trailer is fast-paced, highly-produced and will undoubtedly lead young people to jump off shit that will make their parents throw-up. Second, these kids already make videos documenting their hair-brained stunts, and they get off on showing this stuff. Third, the payout is seeming attractive, in spite of details being scarce: “live like a Nike Pro” with “premium travel, exclusive events, custom product...” Nike’s efforts aren’t flawless—actually, they’re a bit of a nightmare. Nike sites are still largely suckholing in Flash-land as they have for so long. Meanwhile, their litany of brands, sites, and efforts are highly confusing: there are more Facebook pages than you can shake a skate deck at, so many microsites you feel like you’re tripping over them; and then there are things like Nike 6.0 (huh?). Regardless, social media ad spending is reported to quadruple to $8.3 billion by 2015, and companies like Nike are clearly exploring how to make arena central in their strategies.