In advertising big bucks don’t always equal big bang

Spending a lot of money on advertising can demand eyeballs, but it can’t demand loyalty. The most effective advertising tells stories and creates emotions that tie consumers to a brand. A big budget is nice, but it isn’t inherently what defines successful advertising. Recently, retail giants Adidas and Nike competed for attention in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and left us with a great example of this misconception.

Adidas forked over nearly $60 million for an exclusive Olympic sponsorship. While this gave them rights to brand the team uniforms and sell merchandise at the Olympic Village, people didn’t necessarily connect with the brand. In a recent survey, 37 percent of the population named Nike as an official sponsor while only 24 percent correctly stated Adidas as one.

In its Olympic marketing campaigns, Nike was not allowed to reference the 2012 Summer Olympics or any of its sponsored athletes who would be competing in the Games. Nike embraced this opportunity by creating a memorable campaign that encouraged everyone, even the most average of athletes, to “Find Greatness.” We’re not saying this was exactly a low-budget endeavor, but the campaign exploded in the digital realm and was viewed more than five million times on Nike’s YouTube channel alone. That’s certainly more exposure than Adidas received, and for a fraction of the price.

While some brands desperately pieced together commercials that somehow connected them to the Olympics, Nike coolly laid down a big and unique idea that can serve as the framework of future campaigns, Olympic-related or not. Messages that make us think differently, and make us reconsider ourselves – even if it’s only for a few moments – leave an impression worth more than most money can buy.


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