Nike has partnered with an array of up-and-coming young musicians in its latest campaign featuring Neymar Jr in a bid to align the brand more closely with youth influencers outside of sport as its rival Adidas has successfully done.
The US brand is tapping into the Brazilian football star’s fashion and music sensibilities with the Neymar Jr Mixtape Volume 1, a compilation of 17 songs which reflect his eclectic and creative personality.
Nike linked up director Ernest Desumbila, DJ Flavio Rodríguez and producers Ba$$ilones to create the mixtape which features songs from artists such as Yas Weneck from Brazil, Yung Beef from Spain, Dark Polo Gang from Italy, Josman from France, Young T & Bugsey from the UK and Swoosh God from the US.
The campaign launches with a two-minute film featuring the artists and Neymar displaying some of his football skills overlaid with Snapchat-like filters and animations.
The mixtape, which is available on SoundCloud, and the accompanying ad mirrors a similar approach used by its rival Adidas around its star brand ambassador Paul Pogba. Last year the Manchester United midfielder was joined by grime artist Stormzy in an Adidas ad announcing his signing for the Premier League club.
Nike’s new approach comes in response to progress made by Adidas which has been gaining market share on Nike thanks to strong sales in its fashion and streetwear divisions, contributing to a 67% jump in its stock price in the past year. Its 2016 annual report, released in March this year, Adidas showed a 59% growth in its ecommerce business with its Originals line cited as one of the main drivers of sales.
In an interview with GQ magazine in April, Arthur Hoeld, Adidas's senior vice president of global brand strategy, signalled the brand’s intention to continue partnering with influencers dominant in youth culture, such as Kanye West and Rita Ora, and said such moves would be a key strategy in helping achieve its 2020 targets.
Nike’s latest campaign with Neymar illustrates its attempts to be more authentically connected to culture in a way which Adidas has since it first partnered with Run-D.M.C in the 80s. Part of this strategy is fuelled by Nike Lab, an experimental collaborations division which works with fashion designers to create new lifestyle focused products.