Brand & Advertisement: Nike India just hit the bull’s eye and how !


When I saw the Nike India Advertisement that featured Indian sportswomen and Deepika Padukone, I was hit by the razor sharp aim of Nike’s aim to reiterate that it is the top aspirational sportswear brand in the world. Let me explain why this advertisement is a brilliant example of a world class brand yet have a strong regional/ local context:


Brilliant execution

From the video direction, styling, music, editing to the entire design of this film, it was world class quality. It has the flavours of India, catchy music and choreography, it has nuances of how we play sports, a global rhythm to it and so on. The film team has done a great job in not conceptualizing this idea but executing it so well.


Strategic positioning of “girl power”

Well timed, strong positioning of Nike customers in India, a growing target consumers are women and girls who are spending more on their activewear lifestyle. They are fashion conscious, health conscious and many have taken sports as a lifestyle or as their career. Girl power here is not just a style statement, but a social statement and a cultural statement that is trickling from metros to smaller towns in India. The ad showcases serious Indian sportswomen as inspiration, a Bollywood celebrity who can truly represent sports & badminton, and girls next door who have potential to play competitive sports.


Breaking Stereotypes

This is my favourite part, featuring a dusky girl (thank god she is not conventional pretty girl or fair) running in the centre, young girls representing India in competitive sports, practicing and playing like boys do on the streets and in the stadium ! This is a great example of breaking stereotype without being literal or preachy. This was truly imaginative to say girls are equal to boys and not about feminism. And the icing on the cake was showing school girls, making a 360 degree flip! Education and future of girls in sports lies in schools and when did you last see your girl classmate making such a flip?


“With this advertisement, Nike as a brand proved that it can be aspirational and inspirational at the same time !”


What can start-ups and brand learn from this?


  1. Brilliant advertisements are created over solid brands

Good ads are sometimes created irrespective of the brand but brilliant ads are imagined when your brand is solid. If your brand has been built, nurtured with quality inputs, has strong positioning, been consistent and explored imaginative ways of marketing it then creating impactful ads is easier. Nike has always heavily invested in its brand and product, and these two areas of focus helped them to stay ahead the curve. Start-ups need to invest in building quality brands and doesn’t need to be too expensive by hiring only top agencies.


  1. Brands need consistency & creativity

Nike has always been consistent with its branding (strategic identity usage), the positioning (just do it, action oriented, sports leader) and brand strategy (design centric, fashion forward, celebrating sports, fitness as lifestyle). This has been translated over the years creatively by bringing innovative campaigns, experiential retail, strategic sponsors of events, engaging customers and so on. And they have done all this creatively with quality execution. This is probably my golden rule for brand building, strategy & imagination.


  1. Stand for meaning/ substance

Brands can stand out, can differentiate themselves with the right inputs, but brands need more than that. If you want to be connected with your customers, you need to be current, relevant and stand for something. It engages your audience, build traction and interact with customers. Brands need to look at these opportunities to not just make a statement, or get attention but also do this over a period of time consistently. This is something very few brands have done as they don’t know what they stand for. Nike is clear about it, even Indian brands like Tanishq has consistently been talking about women breaking stereotypes for the last few years (beyond in-laws, second marriage etc.). With reference to the Nike ad, it was an intelligent and thoughtful idea to add school girls making a flip in the school. A very important statement about how sports need to start from education, in schools at an early age and girls need to play like boys!


  1. Invest in quality

No good brands are built at low cost, and quality doesn’t need to be too expensive. So how would it work for start-ups? Larger companies and well-funded growth stage start-ups have big budgets to hire the best for quality brand building and marketing. But start-ups with limited budgets will have to make extra effort to hunt for quality talent and small or mid-level agencies that can offer quality execution at mid-range budgets. Start-ups need to be smart and lean to create limited but quality outputs for brands, phase out deliverables and prioritise brand and marketing assets as per the business growth, product launch and customer engagement. Investing in quality has been subjective for start-ups that don’t know or can’t different quality creative outputs so it helps to hire a good consultant or internal team member that understands brand building as a creative exercise and not just budgets or data.


I must add though that this video seems a bit familiar to the previous ad of Nike on cricket where the men were running over the street or the previous ads on training, running in the dessert with weights or playing football in the streets. But yet it retains its uniqueness, a mixture of girls training and playing sports, inspiring nonetheless.


Enjoy the video and get inspired for young girls in India, they need to play sports and let’s go da da ding!