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Nike's Better World Campaign Requires Better Marketing

3p is proud to partner with the Presidio Graduate School’s Managerial Marketing course on a blogging series about “sustainable marketing.” This post is part of that series. To follow along, please click here.

By Joey Christiano

In the late 1980s, shortly after I grew out of my Velcro Roos (you remember, the shoes with the pockets), I caught the Nike bug. Everyone at school had Nikes. An older cousin gave me the Jordan Wings poster for Christmas. My best friend had the Jordan IV’s that came out in 1989. I remember seeing Nike commercials as a kid, the “is it the shoes?” campaign featuring Spike Lee. Nike’s ad blitz had a profound effect on me. Seeing the shoes everywhere, and their association with Michael Jordan, made me want them so BADLY!

Nike is good at marketing, from Bo Knows to Dribbling to Ronaldinho hitting the crossbar. Nike has made poignant commercials about LeBron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat and funny commercials featuring puppets (Penny Hardaway and LeBron & Kobe). Nike has built its brand around successful endorsements, high-performance shoes, and powerful media campaigns.

Nike is also making strides in environmental performance. Sustainable business consultant Isabel Loinaz, wrote a superb piece in November 2011 highlighting Nike’s commitment to sustainability. Through Nike’s cradle-to-cradle framework, Nike Considered Design, and the Nike Better World campaign, it’s clear that Nike gets it. Heck, Nike even recycles shoes to make running tracks and basketball courts. However, in my opinion, Nike hasn’t done a good job of marketing its sustainability efforts to a mass audience. If you want to learn about Nike’s environmental policies you have to dig around on its website.

My challenge to Nike: Use your marketing talent to get kids, adults and athletes talking about environmentally friendly shoes. Tell us a story. And tell it to a broader audience.

What if we saw a commercial with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James reminding us to recycle our old shoes? How about a mature Michael Jordan explaining to his kids why it’s important that the Jordan XXIII’s minimize harmful chemical use? Or Steve Nash getting out of his Prius and explaining that the Trash Talk shoes are made from material scraps that would have gone to waste? If anyone can make concern about environmental issues cool, Nike can. Take it to the next level, Nike.

Just Do It.

Joey Christiano, Presidio Graduate School MBA Class of 2012. Follow Joey on Twitter @jchristiano