Influencer Marketing: Nike’s Iconic Collaboration
Author: Margarita Petropoulaki
Date of Publication: 24/05/2023
Since the inception of social media in 1996 and the biggest social network in 2004, millions of users keep connecting to it worldwide. In 2010 the number of users of social media reached 970 million. This tripled in a decade, being 4.48 billion users in 2021 which practically is 56.8% of the world’s total population.
Given the rapid pace in which the public embraced social networks, the marketing industry started turning its interest towards resonance. This could be created between the public and the online media.
Under these circumstances, a new marketing strategy, called Influencer Marketing begins to evolve. Advertisers
have always been using celebrities as a means of increasing brand awareness in traditional marketing. So, in the digital marketing sector, these celebrities were
now renamed influencers. In particular, influencers are people of international reputation due to their social status and character. Therefore, they are able to
affect the behavior of specific groups.
The Importance of Influencers
Influencers are an important asset in increasing a company’s popularity. This is because they possess a large number of fans/followers, who trust their judgment. According to research conducted by Tapinfluence and Influitive, consumers trust a referral from their personal network 90% of the time. So, consumers perceive influencers’ messages as more credible and persuasive.
Statistically shown, in 2019, 93% of marketers used influencer marketing. Meanwhile, in 2020 69.8% of them increased the budget in this section. Moreover, 17% of marketers plan to invest in influencer marketing for the first time in 2023. What’s more, the industry is set to grow to approximately 21.1 billion dollars.
Nike has been the biggest athlete’s sponsor
in the world. Because of its policy to always support and promote its partners, it has undoubtedly gained some of the most
famous names. Nike collaborated over the
years with people such as Kobe Bryant,
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, and many more. These
people are influential in the sports industry,
and that’s why Nike worked with them. It is estimated that between the years 2012-2017,
Nike spent more than 3 billion dollars on influencers.
A Different Approach
In 1984, after a period of bad sales, Nike contacted an upcoming basketball player’s manager, David Falk, to try and make an appointment with him. The player of reference was Michael Jordan, who was actually convinced to take the meeting, as he initially wanted to collaborate with Adidas. After the presentation of Nike, Jordan signed a five-year, 2.5-million-dollar deal.
At that time, Michael Jordan was not yet a top basketball star, but Nike distinguished him mostly because of his charismatic character. Moreover, he was well known for his saltation and speed. This is where Nike relied on to make the first shoe ever created for Air Jordan’s basketball shoe line. The shoes were released to the public on April 1, 1985, after an NBA “scandal”. This is because the shoes didn’t line up with the NBA policy due to their colors, so they got banned from the game.
Nike took advantage of this bad press and released an advertisement with the slogan: “On October 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them.”
A Unique Collaboration
A lot of people may wonder what makes this collaboration so uniquely successful. The difference between Air Jordan’s line of shoes is that the relationship between these two was a long-term – loyalty-based partnership. Nike didn’t just pay Michael Jordan for a commercial for one pair of basketball shoes. In fact, Jordan did not sign any other deal with any of the famous sports competitor companies. They were committed to deep collaboration. So, Jordan wasn’t just promoting Nike’s shoes but owned his line of shoes, Nike Air Jordan.
Forbes reports that the sports star has earned 1.3 billion dollars since the deal in 1984. What’s more, it has become a revenue-generating brand ever since that move. As reported by Forbes, he earned about 130 million dollars from Nike in 2020.
Nike and Jordan have been working together for over 25 years. Jordan hasn’t been active in the basketball industry for over 10 years, but their collaboration is even more profitable today. Through Jordan, Nike was able to tap into different market segments such as sports, fashion, and hip-hop. So, his shoes became a pop culture sign and gave Nike a cult status in the 90s, a status which still exists today. Therefore, this collaboration could be considered the first influencer marketing of modern times!