Following on from Andrew Warren-Payne’s post looking at various digital marketing campaigns from McDonald’s, I thought it would be interesting to take a similar look at one of the world’s biggest sport brands.

Nike has achieved a great deal of brand exposure from its excellent digital campaigns, particularly through social, and here are 10 of the best examples.

Many of them tie into its overarching #MakeItCount initiative and the Nike+ network, but others are memorable viral videos or interesting social competitions.

So here they are…


This campaign may have lost some of its gloss since Armstrong’s downfall, but it’s still a good example of how Nike uses mobile to involve consumers in marketing campaigns.

The campaign revolved around printing messages on roads around the Tour de France route. The ‘Chalkbot’ was automatically programmed to paint personalised text and online messages in yellow chalk along the route as part of the Lance Armstrong Livestrong campaign.

The aim was to provide messages of hope, support, and perseverance to the cyclists who took part in the race, and inspire them to push themselves that little bit further.

After the Chalkbot printed the message, it took a picture of the road, logged the time and GPS location then sent it back to the user.

The campaign also aimed to generate money for a charitable cause, as 100% of the profits from Nike’s Livestrong collection go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The campaign was not only innovative, but also effective in terms of increasing the bottom line. The campaign coincided with a 46% jump in sales, generating $4m for Lance Armstrong’s fight against cancer.

Though that may obviously have had something to do with the fact that it coincided with the Tour de France…

Fuel Your Team

Nike ran this interactive campaign using its Nike+ social platform, which now has more than six million members.

Since 2010 Nike has developed a range of training products that are digitally linked using the Nike+ FuelBand. Users can then accumulate ‘NikeFuel’ points and set themselves goals or compete against other users.

Earlier this year it ran a campaign called ‘Fuel Your Team’ that allowed users to show support for their favourite college basketball team by earning them NikeFuel points.

Again it’s another great example of Nike creating an interactive campaign that involves fans, rather than simply barking marketing messages at them.

The Chance

Another of Nike’s recurring campaigns is The Chance, which gives youngsters around the world the chance to win a place in The Nike Academy for a year.

The campaign first ran for six months in 2010 through, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Participants created more than 17,000 Facebook pages which reached an additional 5.5 million fans. Furthermore, 2,000 user-generated videos and 28,000 player posts were created and the brand received 3.4 million YouTube views.

The winners were given a full year attendance in the Academy, getting to play against the reserve teams of Premier League and other clubs.

Times Square billboard

In this mobile campaign Nike setup an interactive billboard in Times Square that allowed people to text their own custom design for a chance to win a pair of Nike IDs.

To take part users had to dial the number displayed on the billboard then use their phone’s keypad to customise the on-screen shoe.

They were then sent a text message with a link to download a wallpaper of your design or even buy it.

The campaign ran back in 2009 when smartphone penetration was far lower than today, however anyone could take part as it didn’t need an app or software.

And as this video shows, some people got extremely excited about it…

The Chosen

Nike initially launched this campaign back in 2011, but it has also been run in subsequent years.

It marked a switch from traditional advertising to a greater focus on social media as the initiative premiered on Facebook, including a 90 second video ad which appeared online three days before it was finally shown on TV.

The campaign focused on niche sports such as BMX, skating and snowboarding, and called for people to submit their own videos across each of the sports.

The videos had to feature crews of boarders or bikers, and entrants were supposed to the try and build buzz around their submissions using Facebook and other social networks.

Various professionals and athletes determined the overall winner, who was awarded ‘The Chosen’ lifestyle.

It’s a great example of Nike taking advantage of social media and user-generated content to build buzz around its niche sport products.

Nike Grid

In 2010 the sports brand launched Nike Grid, which turned London into a giant virtual gameboard.

Runners were challenged to reach different checkpoints around the city to earn points, thereby creating a citywide competition among the running community.There were even virtual badges on offer for speed, endurance and stamina.

The campaign ran on Facebook between May and October 2010, and was among Nike’s first attempts at merging real world sport performance with digital and social marketing.

Overall entrants logged a total of 30,177 runs, equating to a distance halfway around the world.


Though Nike wasn’t an official sponsor of the London Olympics in 2012 it was particularly visible around the city with a campaign that celebrated everyday athletes.

It bought up hundreds of billboards around the city and on the tube featuring the hashtag ‘#findgreatness’.

Adidas, which spent tens of millions of pounds to be an official sponsor, ran a campaign featuring Team GB athletes and the hashtag ‘#takethestage’.

According to Socialbakers’ CheerMeter there were more than 16,000 tweets associating Nike with the word Olympic between 27 July and 2 August, compared to 9,295 for Adidas.

Furthermore. Nike attracted 166,718 new Facebook fans during the Games versus 80,761 for Adidas.

But in terms of website visits, Adidas scored a 44% uplift in traffic compared to 10% for Nike. Of the other official sponsors, Samsung was the biggest winner with a 111% boost in traffic while Cadbury’s saw its visit increase by 41%.

In comparison, McDonalds saw just a 1% uplift in traffic, however non-sponsor Burger King actually saw a 33% decline.

Free Running

In order to promote its new Free Running shoes Nike launched a social campaign that challenged runners to clock their fastest time over two miles using Nike+.

To add a sense of fun to the competition the company tied it into an original karaoke song, with the idea being that a strong runner should be able to sing while running.

The song, ‘I would run to you,’ could be downloaded by using the Shazam mobile app on a two-minute short film that was released as part of the campaign.

Once again Nike created an excellent campaign that used social media to enable people to get excited about its products.

Catch The Flash

To promote a new reflective running jacket Nike ran an event called ‘Catch The Flash’ in Vienna.

50 ‘flash runners’ ran around the city at night wearing the jackets and people could win €10,000 by taking photos of as many of the runners as possible.

But it wasn’t just open to people in Vienna – each runner was tracked via GPS so users could chase them through an online game.

Nike+ users had an advantage as they were given a faster virtual character to try and track down the real runners online. Members of the Austrian national football team also played online and posted pictures on Facebook.

On average the online gamers spent 24 minutes on the microsite, however there’s no information on how many people took part in real life.


One of Nike’s first viral campaigns and, let’s face it, the coolest and most memorable one on this list.

Beautiful in its simplicity, the clip shows former world player of the year Ronaldinho receiving new football boots before casually volleying the ball against the crossbar several times from the edge of the area.

It’s obviously fake, but it’s been viewed millions of times on YouTube and is undeniably awesome…