How to “run” successful integrated marketing campaigns

Nike has recently been “in the news” for its Breaking2 campaign. The premise of the campaign is simple: a marathon run completed in 2 hours or less. But what makes this campaign particularly brilliant (and an exceptionally good example of solid integrated marketing) is its ability to pull together the 4Ps of marketing (product, price, promotion and place) and slap on an overlay of incredible emotion and brand resonance, through perfectly living their brand promise. Add to that its consistency with Nike’s other marketing efforts, and you have a winning case study!

What it’s about

Essentially the campaign is an activation of Nike’s brand mission and promise, based on the simple concept of helping a group of runners train for and achieve a running result that has never been achieved: a 2 hour marathon. It focused on their product (building the fastest shoe in the world -a variation of the Zoom Vaporfly Elite), promotion (a brand activation using real runners, promoted through advertising, PR and sponsorship), and place (their website where you can order their products, placed conveniently around the campaign).

Building Brand Resonance with emotion

Nike has always been a brand associated with defying the impossible, and pushing boundaries. They’ve consistently leveraged the human condition, telling stories of human triumph that resonate with almost anyone. Through doing this, they’ve managed to capture the attention of a huge global audience, and building a tribe of brand advocates who feel that Nike is the brand that can help them overcome their own personal limitations – by “just do(ing) it”.  It’s catch-all byline of “Just do it” must be one of the most well-known brand taglines in history.

Reinforcing Nike’s USP and identity

The Breaking2 campaign is neatly packaged within the familiar and consistent Nike branding – in particular the “just do it” philosophy and trademarked tick – across a variety of digital channels: facebook, youtube, twitter, and their website, leveraging the campaign hashtag (#breaking2) with their standard #justdoit hashtag. Because of this packaging, the campaign is immediately recognised as a Nike campaign, even when it’s referenced outside of the brand’s owned platforms. The campaign also tells the story of one particular runner.

The emotion behind the campaign: it’s never been done before; achieving it would be a great feat, and one that defies impossible – its physiologically close to impossible. They created a cause the world over wanted to support – and built a brand story around one human’s quest to defy the impossible (made possible by Nike). The world wanted him to win, they wanted to rally behind his attempt and watch him achieve something seemingly impossible. They did all of this by crafting a compelling and emotive brand story that lived their brand promise:

We at Nike aren’t the type to wait for dreams to become reality. Instead, we got to work on reaching the future faster,rewriting history and the possibilities of human potential in the process.A collaboration between the world’s top minds and its fastest marathon runners. But it’s also a promise. To push ourselves forward every time we take the starting line. To expand our potential by attacking every obstacle. In short, to hold ourselves to an impossibly high standard until it becomes routine. We know Breaking2 will be a challenge. In fact, we plan on it. We can’t think of any other reason to run.”-

How it’s integrated

The Breaking2  campaign is a multifaceted, multimedia campaign. Leading up to the main activation – a live streamed event on Facebook – they produced a series of videos, which then became a central campaign asset, customised and distributed through a variety of digital touchpoints – so no matter where the audience chose to interact with the brand, they’d experience the campaign videos (lengthier videos for youtube; vertical/square format videos for facebook that were much shorter and subtitled etc.). They extended their hype through content marketing efforts in the lead up to the actual race, with content developed around nutrition, fitness, science and psychology (preparation for the event).


They amplified their content through paid tactics across all social channels, and also enjoyed strong PR and media exposure (earned media) both before and after the live event, which attracted many more curious audiences to one of the brand’s other touch points.

The proof is in the pudding

The results of the campaign speak to its success: the live event video was viewed over 5 million times, and the recorded version saw the same amount of views post the actual event (the campaign sustained huge traction as it generated strong word-of-mouth and news coverage post the live event). But the biggest compliment? A thank you message from a competitor:

I mean if that doesn’t convince you that Nike is a brand that makes you feel like anything is possible, I don’t know what is. I know the next time I’m shopping for running shoes, I’ll be considering a pair of Nikes.

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