Nike markets possibility opposed to products. It relies on symbolic signs of individuals to ignite desire in potential customers. How? Nike sponsors “big time” athletes to endorse their brand. These athletes are chosen for their journey to success.
For example, Nike has never been in the business of making bikes but it sponsored Lance Armstrong (until he admitted to doping). They sponsored him because he fought cancer, survived, and then went on to win the most grueling race on the planet. He is an inspiration to all young athletes across the world (or he was). He symbolizes certain characteristics that Nike wants to associate with their brand.
Another example is Tiger Woods. When the company signed Tiger back in 96′ Nike didn’t make golf clubs. It signed him because he was on pace to shatter a huge racial boundary in the world of golf – a “white man’s” sport at the time. Again he is a symbolic sign of success and change. Nike wants that associate with them.
Nike’s strategy is built upon with symbols that its endorsers are. Recently, with Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius having issues this system doesn’t seem to safe but over their 50 year existence it has being instrumental in developing the company into the most successful sporting store worldwide.
– Chris G