Nike’s ‘Emotion by Design’

Nike’s ‘Emotion by Design’

After spending the week immersed in former Nike CMO Greg Hoffman’s new book ‘Emotion by Design’, I felt compelled to revisit some of my favourite ever Nike ads.

Nike is one of the best brands in the world at inspiring emotion, and the book is a fascinating deep dive into the stories behind how some of the most famous Nike campaigns of the past 30 years came to be.

This is very much a personal list, and overlooks some of the more US-centric sports, but these are all absolute crackers and ones that I kept coming back to rewatch on YouTube.

Ripple – Masters 2015

Coinciding with the 2015 Masters, this excellent bit of emotive film-making features a young Rory McIlroy being inspired by an emerging Tiger Woods to take up golf and practice and practice and practice until he finally ends up playing beside Tiger at the Masters. Some great montage scenes of Rory building up those 10,000 hours to a stirring piano backing track. This one always gets me.

Good vs Evil – EURO 1996

The one that started it all from a football point-of-view, Nike were just starting to take their involvement in “soccer” to the next level after the 1994 World Cup in the USA, and the next major tournament to follow that got the Hollywood treatment with a host of big names including Eric Cantona, Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, and Patrick Kluivert taking on a team of the devil’s henchmen.

At the time, Nike was focusing more on football boots as opposed to kit sponsorship and the ad curiously features kits from other manufacturers (later that year they would famously land the Brazil national team). Featuring Eric Cantona’s famous ‘Au Revoir’ line, the ad had millions of kids around the world popping their collar and recreating the ad in their local parks.

Take It To The Next Level – EURO 2008

This Guy Ritchie-directed masterpiece released in the build-up to EURO 2008 gives fans a first-person look at the career of a young professional footballer making his way from the Sunday League to getting scouted by Arsenal and playing against stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and Ronaldinho. Experiencing it all through the eyes of the protagonist, it’s a nod to The Prodigy’s iconic video for ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.

The Cage – World Cup 2002

This ad will forever be remembered for its use of a remix of Elvis Presley’s ‘A Little Less Conversation’, but the concept itself was incredibly memorable. 24 of the best players in the world, stuck on a boat playing three-a-side knockout cage match football, first goal wins. What’s not to love?

Directed by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam, the ad was part of Nike’s largest, most globally coordinated campaign ever at the time with events such as local cage-match tournaments happening in 13 countries and activations in over forty others. The only thing that shattered the illusion was the team of Thierry Henry, Francesco Totti, and Hidetoshi Nakata beating Ronaldo, Figo, and Roberto Carlos in the final.

Write The Future – World Cup 2010

Another epic campaign released in the run-up to a major tournament, this ad directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro Inarritu, focuses on the fine line between success and failure at the highest level of sport.

Featuring a host of the biggest players in the world (I’m sensing a theme here) in the moments that will see them either become a hero or a villain, we see Wayne Rooney living in a caravan after mis-hitting a pass, to Cristiano Ronaldo starring in The Simpsons after scoring a free kick. At the time it became the most-shared campaign on the internet.

Posted by Rob in Tech

Your 2022 Checklist

It’s that time of year again when we look towards the next twelve months. It’s been a tough couple of years but some companies have embraced the changing landscape and prospered as a result. 

This year there has been a lot of talk about blockchain technology – especially around crypto-currencies and NFTs – as well as the “Metaverse”, AR and Web3 in general, but if you really want to make meaningful change to your business in 2022 you’ve got to be doing the basic things right – letting potential customers know about your products and services in an unintrusive way, making it easy for them to buy, and facilitating repeat purchases.

Rather than play a game of buzzword bingo with some of the latest flashy trends, let’s look at what you can do in the next twelve months to supercharge your business.

1. Connect the dots between your online and offline channels

The pandemic obviously changed how a lot of people shopped, pushing many, especially in this region, into e-commerce for the first time. But e-commerce penetration in the UAE still remains comparatively low at 8.1 percent of total sales in the country.

Despite brick-and-mortar stores in many parts of the world taking a beating in recent years as e-commerce has grown, in the Middle East, malls are seen as a social place to bring family and meet friends as opposed to simply a utilitarian place to make a purchase. As such, stores have remained a solid customer touchpoint in this region, as well as a convenient place to pick-up something you may have bought online from a retailer.

PwC’s 2020 Covid-19 Pulse survey found that the pandemic strengthened online shopping habits of consumers, particularly semi-digital options such as click and collect. Shoppers want flexibility and 35 percent of online shopper respondents said they intended to pick up their purchase in-store. For brands, this is a unique opportunity to offer a great, personalized experience to delight your customer, and maybe even make an additional sale.

But to truly win at this you need to have your brick-and-mortar retail locations and online store playing nice with each other. Being able to tell that an online visitor has bought from one of your physical stores in the past, or that a walk-in visitor to your retail store has an online history with your brand is invaluable. And being able to take advantage of that information with an Omnichannel approach is critical.

2. Use your own first-party data

It’s never been more important to control your own first-party customer data than it is today. A host of updates from Apple and Google over the last couple of years, as well as consumer privacy legislation like GDPR, has meant that it has become more difficult and more expensive to reach customers in a targeted way through digital advertising.

The onus is now on brands to make an effort to bypass the adtech middle-men and own their own customer relationships. Some ways in which this can be done is through a robust loyalty programme or exclusive discounts, offers, or perks like free delivery for customers signed-up to your website. Many brands in the region are utilizing this like Majid Al-Futtaim, Noon, Alshaya Group, Landmark Group, Al Tayer Group, and many more.

When you control your own customer data it lets you connect with your customers on your own terms via email, SMS, or app push notifications etc. with personalised recommendations and offers. Keeping a customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one, so why not make it worthwhile for customers to interact with you directly through meaningful incentives and a well thought-out loyalty programme. It’s a win-win for both of you.

3. A Personalised customer experience

So ideally you’ll have all this data. But now what to do with it? Online platforms like Amazon, Netflix and Facebook have raised customers’ expectations for how they should be treated online offering a hugely personalised experience. Nowadays, customers expect the brands that they shop with to be able to treat them as individuals. If you shop with a certain brand regularly but you visit their website or app and they don’t offer you personalised content or recommendations this creates a disconnect. 80 percent of frequent shoppers surveyed in a 2019 report from Smarter HQ said they only shop with brands who offer a personalised experience.

While data privacy can be a concern for some, for many as long as the data we share gives us some value in return, it’s generally seen as a fair trade. In fact, nine out of 10 consumers in that same Smarter HQ report claimed they are willing to share their behavioural data if it makes their online shopping experience cheaper or easier.

For brands, achieving this can be easier said than done. According to Forrester, 89 percent of digital businesses are investing in personalisation. But a study they conducted found that only one in five organizations are effective at personalising content at-scale. It is clear that this is an area that the C-suite needs to take more seriously. If you aren’t treating your customer as an individual, you can be sure that your competitors are only too happy to take their custom.

4. Getting your product to your customer

With more people than ever shopping online over the past couple of years, getting your product from your warehouse or store to the end consumer has become a real point of differentiation for shoppers. Customers are spoiled for choice when it comes to getting their hands on the things they buy quickly. Platforms like Amazon or Noon offer next-day, or in some cases even same-day delivery, as well as platforms like Careem or NowNow offering grocery delivery within 30 minutes.

This so-called “Last Mile” is key, and brands are faced with the choice of investing in their own robust delivery system or using a third-party. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen stores like Spinney’s roll-out their own delivery channel for online orders, which of course comes at a cost, but also offers much-needed reliability and flexibility for customers. Retailers like Namshi rely on such a network not only for offering fast delivery, but for quickly picking-up and processing returns. It’s this level of service that can set you apart from your competition. Today’s customers are time sensitive and getting your product to them quickly is table stakes.

Taking the next step

Sitecore’s revamped Digital Experience Platform (DXP) and suite of composable tools such as Content Hub, the Customer Data Platform (CDP) and Personalize can send you well on your way to 

Posted by Rob in e-Commerce, Marketing, Media
Demystifying AI for Personalisation

Demystifying AI for Personalisation

I originally wrote this article for MediaPost’s Marketing Insider section

What comes to mind when you think of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)? If you’re picturing HAL 9000 from sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, you might be getting a bit ahead of yourself. AI and ML are hot topics these days, with some of the discourse centering around the potential negative consequences of unregulated AI advancements – computers gaining sentience and taking over the world While this is a scary thought, the reality of how this technology is being used in the real world is a little more prosaic.

The Reality of AI: Personalisation

While advanced use cases like image recognition and autonomous driving are often praised, the most common use cases for AI and machine learning from a commerce point of view revolve around personalisation. In this context, like many other types of personalisation, it basically comes down to taking signals from a particular data set or some past behaviour, and using that to inform a future action. For example, if a system finds out over time that the users that interact with content about car maintenance tend to end up buying more car insurance, then it can prioritize showing more car insurance product suggestions to users that interact with car maintenance content, thus streamlining the journey.

This action can also be done manually of course, but with the help of AI / ML it can be done without a human having to trawl through a sea of data to find the insights and action them. AI / ML can uncover patterns that humans may not see, and can be set-up to automatically action them without explicit go ahead. Look at it like a helping hand in implementing personalisation, letting you free up your marketing team to concentrate on other creative tasks like creating campaigns or copy.

Identifying Consumer Segments

Another particularly helpful role AI / ML can play is to detect customer segments and help create personas. This technology can be very effective at finding ways to group customers together that might not be overly apparent to the human eye. Creating personas can be a difficult thing for brands to get right. Much of the time, true insights can be hidden behind the data and marketers can end-up relying on basic demographic-based characteristics like age, gender, or geography when creating their personas. AI / ML can help discover nuanced segments that human analysts might have missed.

AI won’t work without data

When done well, personalisation can have an outsized benefit for retailers, increasing conversion, cross-selling and brand affinity, and AI / ML is making it easier for companies to get it right. All this comes with a caveat though. To really utilize AI / ML you need data. The more, the better. It’s never been more important for brands to take their first-party data strategy seriously and it’s not just to take advantage of AI / ML. Bolstering your first-party data can have benefits across your whole business – strengthening your ability to sell direct to your customers, increasing margins and lifetime customer value. In a post-third-party cookie world, brands that rely on middlemen to reach their customers will be increasingly at a disadvantage while brands that take their first-party data seriously and use technology like AI / ML to utilize it will be well placed for tomorrow.

Posted by Rob in Tech