Nike Builds a Shrine to… Nike

20May08

Here is a post I wrote for Launch PR that I thought you might be interested in reading:

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Most brands dream of this fate: after years of successful new product launches and accolades that position the brand as one of “The World’s Most Innovative Companies,” Nike has launched a gallery of its “Nike 706: 100 most innovative accomplishments” eight days before the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing.

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Housed in Bejing’s trendy 798 Arts District, the exhibition showed off its most iconic shoes including Michael Johnson’s gold track shoes. As Cool Hunting’s Tim Yu reports, the shoes were showcased in stacked boxes modeled after Nike’s classic shoe box design and visitors were given an iPod Touch loaded with audio explanations of each pair of shoes featured. Nike 706 will remain in the 798 Arts District for a month.

When Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight got their start selling their first order of shoes out of Knight’s Plymouth Valiant and using Bowerman’s wife’s waffle iron and Carolyn Davidson’s swoosh logo to launch Nike, little did either know that they were launching a cultural icon.

However, Nike’s products have clearly inspired enough global fandom, that the notion of showing its products off as innovative art-like pieces in an exhibition during the Olympics doesn’t seem like superficial hyperbole, it seems completely appropriate.

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DDB’s Joe Cronin once described the Letterman Show to me as a frame for great companies and great marketing. Celebrities come on the show and spend an hour promoting their films and new product lines. Happily, we watch the show and thoroughly enjoy what could logically be described as an hour-long advertisement. Great brands and marketing have the same effect. We proudly display their logos on our handbags or their latest ad on our blog and we would happily attend an exhibition to reminisce about their past product launches. We see these brands and marketing efforts as an acceptable form of fashion, culture and entertainment.

Images from Cool Hunting

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