Nike Taps into High School Track and Field in Canada
There are few brands with a bolder attitude than Nike. The company that was once a simple sneaker brand has conquered nearly every sport in the spectrum, emblazoning its signature swoosh on athletes ranging from basketball stars and surfing pros to tennis champions and golf masters. There aren’t many niches left untapped by the Portland-based brand, but when an opportunity arises to make a new connection, Nike strikes swiftly—creating events where there are none to sponsor and innovating new ways to win loyal fans through a mix of live experiences and technology.
Such was the case when Nike set out to tap into the 115,000-athlete strong high school track and field market in Canada by partnering with the organization School Sport Canada to launch the Nike High School Grand Prix, the first-ever Canadian invitational track and field meet held May 10 through 13 at the University of Toronto. Nike recognized it needed a central communications and promotional hub for the 250 participating student athletes and teacher-coaches who were selected across 10 Canadian provinces and territories, as well as their supporters. So it created highschoolgrandprix.ca, a microsite dedicated to the program and its participants.
The grand prix homepage accommodates a prominent welcome video (it now features a recap video from the meet), as well as Facebook and Twitter feeds. Logos from each participating region scroll horizontally across the page. The website allows for coverage of all event activities with a page for team profiles, news—ranging from track and field training tips to newspaper articles, to blog posts about travel and sightseeing in Toronto—an FAQ, event results, sponsor messages and photos. Social media tie-ins promoted a series of activations before the event that included a media launch, Nike gear fittings, seminars, banquets, keynote speakers and organized tours of the host city.
Nike streamed the entire event using Ustream on the microsite’s main page and through a tab on the event’s Facebook page, enabling those who couldn’t attend the physical event to participate virtually. Immediately after the event, the results were accessible on the website. Participants and supporters could continue to follow the action long after the Grand Prix, as brand ambassadors attended three high school provincial championships in order to promote the Toronto event. Updates continued on the site and through social media.
Thanks to the activity generated by its microsite and social media efforts, Nike reached more than half a million Facebook “friend of likers”—friends of those who had “liked” its Facebook page. The campaign website was deemed so successful, it is already serving as the starting line for next year’s Grand Prix, set for May 2013.