Nike: Trying to be the Chosen one in action sports

Nike photo of ad with Paul Rodriguez skating down steps

Movies get shot in two years, not commercials, yet Nike took its time in what may be one of its boldest campaigns yet—Nike “Chosen.”

Chosen targets the Gen-Y audience hard, focusing on extreme or “action” sports. But this isn’t just a shot in the dark. It’s obviously a move that took quite a bit of planning. Successful integration often does.

Before we look at what Nike is doing, let’s go over a few things. Extreme sports came into favor mainly because of three factors:

  1. Attitude – These sports were originally seen as anti-establishment and anti-brand—a huge draw for a young audience.
  2. Connection – The athletes were regular teenagers and young adults who liked connecting with their audience and did so regularly—sometimes even in the midst of competing.
  3. Excitement – Our standard sports didn’t bring near the risk or excitement that these sports brought.

Knowing this background, hopefully you can see that the possibility of failure or backlash was big if Nike came in acting like a big brand in charge.

Instead, they inched in with Nike SB (skateboard) and then into the Winter Dew Tour as Nike 6.0 with a multiyear deal they took very seriously.  Their goal wasn’t just to sponsor and represent athletes. They got more involved with athletes to help showcase their sport and their talents and show their relationship was a two-way street.

The Chosen campaign sets a new mark for other brands to follow. Go to the Nike Chosen website and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Integration – Commercials were released on Facebook and YouTube first and then went to TV.
  • Interaction – Nike is not just sending out videos and hoping audiences like them. They want the audience to participate and send in their own videos—for what they’re calling “the ultimate prize.”
  • Segmentation – Action sports have many different arms, and Nike chose four to focus on—snow, BMX, surf, and skateboard.

They decided to highlight the athletes on their turf, not some fake set, and they included men and women. Involving fans is crucial for this audience, so the video contest was a terrific choice.

All of their choices show that Nike put the time and research in to really understand this audience. Check out the Chosen commercial and see what you think:

Even the music was chosen carefully. Listen to the lyrics in the song leading this commercial:

I’ve got a thing
You’ve got a thing
Everybody’s got a thing

Translation? That’s Nike saying, “We respect what you do. We’re not coming into your world to change you.”

They even allow each athlete to still wear and showcase their other sponsors. (Notice the RedBull helmet in the video and Monster gear in the contest and behind-the-scenes videos.)

Of course, Nike’s “Just do it” slogan appears at the end of the commercial, but given the thought, time, and preparation that went into this campaign, a more accurate message is “Just do it right.” Nike is definitely leading the way.



  1. AutoConversion · June 15, 2011

    That’s a pretty electrifying video, and a very thoughtful post too. Comes across as if you have an inside scoop. Maybe you do?

  2. ctmarcom · June 15, 2011

    I thought so too–electrifying, not your typical commercial. No inside scoop, just found some people who did have info and connected some dots. And as soon as I saw this ad, I started researching. I knew I had to write about it.

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