Nike Hopes Video Widget Effort Will Give Legs to Soccer Campaign

Mike Cookson, Nike’s content and media director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is quick to acknowledge his company doesn’t exactly have a tough time when it comes to marketing.

A brand like Nike, he concedes, is already a household name.

“At Nike, we are fortunate,” he said. “We are in a high interest category and we have a lot of heritage, over the last 25 years, telling great stories in fantastic ways. When it comes to our access to commercial channels, we’re lucky as well.”

Nevertheless, Cookson said a recently launched, video widget-based campaign for Nike football [as in soccer] is a sign that the company isn’t resting on its traditional ad laurels.

“Youth audiences consume and edit media in ways that a lot of people who have been in the business a long time have a hard time relating to,” said Cookson. “These young people grew up in a world where the Internet and mobile phones have always been there. The way the young consumer operates is very different to previous generations.”

The campaign, created by AKQA, distributed by Mindshare and using widget technology from Eyeblaster, is supposedly the largest global video widget campaign ever attempted.

It was launched in early May in conjunction with the launch of NikeFootball.com, timed to coincide with the end of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League and the running of the EURO 08 football championship. It is running simultaneously with the 72andSunny-developed Nike Next Level football campaign and will run through the summer.

“The Web site lifetime is obviously much longer than that and will be updated with new content throughout its lifetime,” said Erica Dublin of Mortar, Eyeblaster’s public relations agency, in an e-mail exchange with ClickZ. “The aim is to get the widget to last for much longer and have it as a permanent placement on users’ profiles for months, even years. The widget will last as long as new content is being added to the channel.”

The widget will enable Nike to globally track every engagement with it. Once people install it on their social networking site pages, Nike gets “a direct, permanent communication channel with users where Nike can update video content at anytime,” said Mortar.

Cookson explained that using a video widget means people can enjoy, and share, different pieces of Nike’s popular soccer-related video content without having to visit the full Nike Football site.

He said the video widget campaign will, in a sense, keep alive the Nike football messaging “beyond the end of the championship.”

Cookson said AKQA, serving as the digital creative agency, “kind of led the project from an idea point of view about the ways we can showcase some of the content we are creating.”

Separately, AKQA helped Nike develop a new mobile marketing campaign named Nike PHOTOiD. The campaign, running in Europe, allows people to create personalized footwear that matches the colors in their photographs.

Using camera-phones, people can send pictures to a shortcode using MMS. They get, in return, a link to a mobile Internet site that shows a Nike shoe super-imposed over their photo. The image can be saved and used as digital wallpaper or to create actual Nike Dunk basketball shoes by entering the design at NIKEiD.com.

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