Association Marketing Case Studies

Major success apparel companies such as Nike Inc., Under Armour and Adidas commence marketing campaigns multiple times in a year. Interestingly, they approach the process through similar tactics, aligning their logos and messaging with prosperous athletes or past legends to create powerful consumer associations. Under Armour’s company slogan, Universal Guarantee of Performance, exemplifies the industry’s preferred advertising outcome (1). Social media viralocity is the common goal of ads such as Nike’s 2013 Possibilities video, which generated 4.3 million views in a week and spiked company traffic (2).

The methodology to spur such massive attention is congruent across the activewear titans. Inclusion of athletic achievers, celebrities and occasionally the average person provides for company-to-consumer rapport. The initial 1988 Just Do It ad featured Walt Stock, the then eighty year old running icon (2). Lumbering across the Golden Gate Bridge, the shirtless legend describes his daily seventeen mile workout. The color contrast of such commercial adds to the distinct edge the lightweight footwear provides a person; the advantage is simply black and white, which remain the branding pigments that grace the performance logo’s Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, and Pinterest profiles. The blatant nature of Nike’s commitment to convert top performers to brand ambassadors is exemplified in their immediate 1985 partnership with then rookie stand out Michael Jordan. Their 1988 commercial pitting Jordan with an extremely curious Spike Lee demonstrates performance psychology, with Lee searching for Jordan’s success secret by constantly questioning  “Is it the shoes, Michael?” (2). The same year, Bo Jackson emerged as the world’s top athlete, and shortly thereafter starred in a Just Do It Bo Knows ad (2). Mixing lyrical and sports culture, Nike amalgamated rebellious tennis player Andre Agassi with The Red Hot Chili Peppers to enlarge viewership interest. Two years later, Charles Barkley’s I’m Not a Role Model ad demonstrated the pitfalls of societal athlete glorification, revealing a realist company view (2). The basketball legend’s quote, “Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids,” established Nike’s edgy authenticity. The company furthered its humanitarian image when Agassi and tennis rival Pete Sampras set up an impromptu tennis court in the middle of New York City, and in the 1995 If You Let Me Play video highlighted how female inclusion in sports reduces breast cancer and partner abuse probabilities (2). However, instances of athlete regression and consequent societal resentment can make a Nike endorsement seem out of place. Nike’s alignment with Tiger Woods in 1996 fostered years of successful branding until his scandalous affair, which occurred the same year that brand superstar Lebron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, disgusting basketball loyalists. Company damage control re-oriented public opinion from the athletes’ life decisions to their sports performance with the phrase, “winning takes care of everything” (2). Fortunately, Derek Jeter’s impeccable image and 8.7 million retirement video views brandishing the Swoosh logo atop his uniform ameliorated the company image in 2014 (2). Novel emphasis on real world experiences demonstrated in the Find Your Greatness video featuring an overweight male jogger struggling to trudge down a remote road also garnered public favor (2). As the words, “Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We’re all capable of it,” echo through the tape, Nike appeals to the average person fighting to get in shape, a demographic encompassing its consumer majority (2). Supplementing their four years of relatively strong ads, the company published its Bradley Cooper voice-over Possibilities video featuring ordinary people completing against Lebron James and Serena Williams (2). Product-result association via alignment with celebrities and top athletes encompass effective marketing strategies for such activewear companies.

Works Cited

1. “Under Armour Inc.” Under Armour | Mission & Values. EOE, Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

2. Taube, Aaron. “25 Nike Ads That Shaped The Brand’s History.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 01 Sept. 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

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