Nike Experiments With TV/Internet Intersection

Nike, long known for cutting-edge
advertising created with Wieden & Kennedy, this weekend starts a television
campaign designed to drive viewers to its Internet site, where they’re
invited to choose the ending of a commercial.


Dot-com television advertising, of course, has long aimed to send viewers
scrambling to their computers, but this is the first time a traditional
advertiser has so aggressively used the Internet for a brand-building
experiment. The idea is, as a company statement put it, to turn a 30-second
ad experience into a 20-minute interactive experience with the brand.


“This campaign is like nothing we’ve done before,” says Mike Wilskey,
Nike’s vice president of US marketing. “It represents an unprecedented step
for Nike, as we have integrated ‘traditional’ television advertising with
the Internet.”


The campaign, aimed at promoting the company’s new line of cross training
shoes, will feature three world class athletes — sprinter Marion Jones,
baseball slugger Mark McGwire and snowboarding champ Rob Kingwill.


The
athlete talks directly to the viewers, in a bid to lure them into the role
of a participant in the action. Then, just as things heat up, the ad fades
to black and a message directs viewers to http://whatever.nike.com.


On the Web site, viewers will be able to choose from up to seven different
endings for the ad.


The first of the three spots, which debuts during the NFL playoffs on
January 15, shows Jones challenging the viewer to a foot race. She then
dashes through the streets and alleyways of Santa Monica while people, dogs
and glass doors fly by.


The viewer follows, in hot pursuit, as Jones rushes
down the beach promenade, dodging street performers and tourists. Suddenly,
the viewer slams into a man juggling chainsaws. When the roaring saws fall
back to earth, the screen goes dark with a note telling viewers the story
is continued at the Web site.


The strategy for this campaign is interesting, because it acknowledges the
power of the Web to involve consumers in an interactive relationship with a
brand. Of course, there’s also the added benefit, for Nike, that the Web is
much more inexpensive than the high-production-values television
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