She Runs The Night – strategy, execution, results of Nike’s groundbreaking campaign
Campaign: She Runs the Night
The Nike brand was strong within the running market, but Asics had a slight edge in shoe sales, especially female shoes. Nike had always designed shoes specifically for women’s feet, but had never communicated exclusively to females. Collectively, Nike and Razor felt this gap was an opportunity.
According to research firm GfK, Nike was the top consideration for female runners; however, Asics was seen as the running specialist and the brand most likely to be recommended to others.
Nike’s overall objective was, to find a way to connect with female runners and get them talking about Nike.
Razor started by speaking with young females who took their running seriously and soon it became apparent running appeared to be an individual pursuit, dominated by men. Women had a tendency to run alone, often left to overcome their fears and achieve their goals by themselves. This seemed at odds with women’s natural inclination to discuss and share experiences.
The big insight was that young women runners lacked something fundamental to the female psyche: a forum to communicate, achieve goals and conquer barriers together. The idea, therefore, was born: create a community for young females bound by a passion for running.
The strategy was to use real female runners as the primary channel to promote and grow the community a significant departure for Nike from elite athlete-led communication. Channel imperatives employed were:
- Physical running communities – created for authenticity,
- digital communities – necessary to match young female social behaviours,
- mobile interactivity – essential given high usage by runners, and
- advertising – placed in female worlds, not running worlds, shattering the male-dominated norms.
Conversation was ignited through Nike’s social media channels, with a rally cry for change and stimulating chat around the barriers women face. It was during this conversation that the need to tackle the biggest barrier of the community was identified: running alone at night.
So, Nike decided to challenge its community by announcing a 13-kilometre night race for female runners. This would be the anchor around which the community would be built. It also gave the community a name: ‘She Runs the Night’.
Young runners were solicited to be the voice of the brand. Carly, a young runner, was appointed as the community manager to bring a voice to the ‘Nike She Runs’ Facebook page. Her posts brought instant authenticity to the community and led to some of the highest engagement across Facebook posts.
Nike encouraged women to share their running experiences with both the Facebook page and their fellow fans.
After 16,000 likes and 14,000 people talking about the run within one month, it was clear the community was on to something powerful.
With 87% of young female runners running with their phone, an app with content generated by Nike and the runners was made available to the women to provide further inspiration and motivation.
To help recruit runners for the race, five young women were chosen as ambassadors. Their stories were told in a content piece, employed across multiple channels.
The ambassadors’ stories were placed on posters with QR codes that activated videos in environments where runners congregated and discussed running or fitness, such as Fitness First gyms and well-known running routes.
Further promotion was provided through eDMs sent out to Nike’s various databases and via a Cosmopolitan partnership, which included:
- An editorial feature on night running,
- website integration with Cosmopolitan.com.au via editorial, plus impactful display advertising, sending users through to the race’s Facebook registration, and
- a running workshop.
The promotional push was replicated within universities, recruiting ambassadors who:
- Networked and recruited within clubs, societies, sporting groups, gyms, sport and faculties on campus,
- put up posters across the five campuses,
- sent eDMs to 39,834 students, and
- used their own social channels.
Each ambassador held weekly run clubs in different locations around Sydney, allowing women to not only train for the 13-kilometre run, but also connect with other women along the way.
Race night was where the community came together. Runner journeys were published via all media partners and Nike’s own media. Race entrants also received a personalised digital media video post-event.
For the ‘She Runs’ strategy to operate as an ongoing communication platform, it was critical that the community continued to contribute and promote post-event. Nike-run clubs continue to operate on a weekly basis.
Ambassadors still provide motivation to runners and continue to promote product innovations. Carly is still blogging.
‘She Runs’ was one of the most successful campaigns of 2012. It demonstrates the power of a culturally connected idea – one that helps a community to form, shifts brand perceptions and ultimately changes how people talk about a product. All KPIs and expectations were exceeded:
- A community of 54,762 female runners was built (83% more than KPI),
- 98% of the digital community,
- positively engaged with Nike (40% more than KPI), and
- 90% of runners surveyed via Facebook intend to run the race again this year (13% more than KPI).
Nike did not commission research to gauge a shift in brand preference, but sales targets were hit and key shoe styles sold out.
Nike and Razor set out to shake up running for women and ended up sparking a movement that unleashed a powerful, thriving community – a community that’s still running.
The campaign has also been recognised by several key media industry awards including winning the Best Integrated Media category at the 2012 Media Federation of Australia Awards and winning for Best Engagement Strategy at the Festival of Media Awards Asia.