Lessons from Nike Bleed Blue – brand star of WC 2011

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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.

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  1. Sriram Iyer Reply

    Nike did 'Bleed Orange' for the Football World Cup supporting Netherlands. I guess they have adapted the same idea to India. Well done, nevertheless.

      • Sriram Iyer Reply

        Netherlands reached the finals of the world cup, but unfortunately lost out to Spain 1-0. They were tremendous right till the finals and their performance was brilliant. I am not sure if the campaign was a success, but the general comments on Youtube was that people liked what they saw. The 'Bleed Orange' chant was huge though. They didn't brand the footballers as 'Superstars', instead as Footballs who were hungry to win the cup. The Indian version, is more or less the same.

        Here's the 'Bleed Orange' TVC.



        PS: 'Bleed Blue', may not have been successful had India repeated 2007 WC performance, so I guess Nike played it safe by waiting till the Semi-finals to release the TVC. The people of Netherlands may not be 'that' fanatical as Indian fans, so we how did they react after Netherlands lost the finals, I wouldn't know.

  2. sanjay sharma Reply

    In terms of effectiveness I have been given to understand that Pepsi's CTG was a massive hit both in terms of brand profile and on ground sales. I think Pepsi did a smart thing by not linking the campaign to performance. For eg. they can even do theirs during IPL. Whereas Bleed Blue cannot. Anyway on a mass scale pepsi was more entertaining. Bleed Blue was intense and to my mind more niche.

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