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Lessons from Nike Bleed Blue – brand star of WC 2011

While a handful of brands paid millions to be associated with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, for me the clear winner was Nike Cricket. Some brands had their fair share of high decibel campaigns – Pepsi’s Change the Game, for instance. And then there were others who force fitted their business association in ads (Moneygram) and some who simply treated this as an opportunity to create chest thumping AVs (Hyundai). What worked for me:

The mantra: simple, yet evocative – the ‘Bleed Blue’ mantra captured the imagination of a nation. In just two words it conveyed so much. No wonder we had ‘Bleed Blue’ tweets and statements when someone wanted to convey their support for the team.

Nike Bleed Blue

Plan ahead: I think the Nike campaign started 6 months ahead of the World Cup. Just as sporting teams plan to peak to at the right time in a tournament, this campaign too peaked at the right time – contributed by an early start.

Product integration: the mantra could easily have been left to a nebulous ‘support for India’ kind of cause. But the product was at the centre – as witnessed by  me early in the morning on the day of the India-Pakistan Quarter Final: people were enquiring about the official merchandise at Nike stores.

Aiding consumer participation: at popular malls like Mantri Square in Bangalore, it was common to see regular folk give a ‘Bleed Blue’ pose and make posters out of them. The ease of participation was also a big factor in the online space: creating your own ad or expressing your love creatively was a cinch. A seemingly ‘esoteric’ idea was given meaning through a simple act of hand print.

Gooseflesh advertising: need I say more?

Aside from all this the campaign was helped by its scale – both of imagination and execution. And the fact that the target audience for the brand can be reached without really going mass (unlike say a soft drink). Hats off to the client and agency teams involved.


Ex-ad man. Love advertising, Apple, tech, digital, design and all things creative. VP - MarCom, @Robosoft. Views personal. See disclaimer for more.