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Nike Exercises Its Digital Option


Increasingly, agencies are beginning to realize the importance of having strong digital capabilities—and it’s not just the little guys.

Despite a highly successful relationship with Wieden+Kennedy, Nike has invited other agencies to pitch the digital work for their running-shoe account. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Nike cited “dissatisfaction with the agency’s digital expertise” as the main reason for their decision to seek a more web-savvy agency. According to Trevor Edwards, Nike’s vice president of global brand and category management: “Gone are the days of one shoe, one advertising campaign. Now you’ve got to engage consumers on every level.”

Despite 25 years of close partnership with W+K, Nike decided that the agency didn’t provide the best fit for their new line of innovative footwear, Nike+. These shoes contain a sensor that communicates with iPods, enabling users to track performance. This information can then be synced and shared via Nike’s website. By integrating their technology with Apple’s, Nike stands to reap tremendous rewards. Apple sold 21 million iPods in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, bringing their total to 90 million in worldwide sales.

And yet, Nike is signaling that this confluence of two mega-brands still needs an agency that is in touch with their target base. The former head of Saatchi & Saatchi’s L.A. office, David Murphy, puts it bluntly: “If people aren’t embracing digital they will get left behind; clients are already there and they are gravitating to agencies who get it.”

This bold step, coming from a marketing leader, will hopefully encourage other brands to see the urgency of growing brand relevance online. There are clear signs that this change is already taking place. A recent survey by the Association of National Advertisers asked 100 senior marketing officials to list their chief marketing concerns. “Integrated marketing communications”—the marriage of digital and traditional media—vaulted to #1, up from #4 a year ago.

We think that Nike’s unexpected shift constitutes further proof that space150’s multi-dimensional, consumer-centric approach is perfectly suited to today’s marketplace.