The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

How Nike pulled off brilliant ambush marketing in the Olympics


By Noel Young, Correspondent

August 22, 2012 | 3 min read

They were one of the most prominent non-sponsors of the Olympics - yet Nike managed to hi-jack the greatest show on earth with an amazing yellow-green neon shoe.

The shoe that stole the show

The man behind the Volt Shoe was Martin Lotti. The shoe is described in an Adage cover story: "The beautifully crafted, incandescent kicks that whizzed by on the feet of 400 Olympic athletes, including USA's Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee, Great Britain's Mo Farah and France's Renaud Lavillenie."

Nike, said the mag, captured the Olympic gold in ambush marketing.

Lotti, 37, was Nike's global creative director for the Olympics . An industrial designer by education, he has been at Nike for 15 years.

Painting Nike's Flyknit shoe Volt in that vivid way , was Lotti's way of creating a kind of "Team Nike."

Previously, the brand had matched the colour of the shoe to the color of the individual athlete's uniforms. Trouble was, it blended in. This year, hundreds of athletes from different countries wore the same vivid colour

The result, said AdAge, : a wave of attention that could well end up in marketing textbooks for its simplicity and effectiveness.

"Nike's move was really clever. They used marketing assets that belonged to them alone, and those assets gave them a pretty unique opportunity to take advantage of the Olympic rules," said Kent Grayson, professor of marketing at Northwestern University.

Focus groups of amateur, college and professional athletes had been shown the shoe in different colours .

Across the board, everybody loved the Volt, Lotti revealed .

There's a scientific reason for that. "It's the most-visible colour to the human eye." said Lotti.


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +