Introduction

As Project Manager at Wieden and Kennedy, New Delhi, I had the opportunity to work on of the most iconic brands of all time and in turn influence popular culture and sports culture in the Indian context. 

Nike has set benchmarks around the world by doing what it does best – bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. Nike has created culture, powered the spirit of sport, and innovated to serve and authentically connect with the youth. With this same ambition, we spoke with Indian youth, athletes, sports experts and pop culture influencers. We explored what’s within their hearts and minds. We found that Nike has the opportunity to become a leading symbol of inspiration and empowerment. That India needs Nike, and Nike can help people to become athletes* in their own right.

Objectives

  • Understand how Nike can inspire the Athlete within. 
  • Understand the perception of Nike in relation to the competition. 
  • Explore the connection between the 'Just Do It' spirit and youth culture with the country. 

Methodology

  • Qualitative research done in Mumbai and New Delhi. 
  • Mini focus groups comprising of active young people. 
  • In person interviews of pop culture influencers, sports experts and athletes.


In Pursuit of Self

India’s optimistic youth are resolving their identities amidst great socio-economic and political change. At the same time, they are feeling an increasing desire to follow their hearts and chart their own destinies. They are experimenting with convention but remain conscious of their responsibilities towards their families.


In Pursuit of Victory

‘Just do it’ is the voice that comes from within and says, ‘go with your gut, but keep your head straight.’ It is about taking calculated risks and overcoming mental obstacles. ‘Just do it’ encourages people to emerge victorious in competitive situations and everyday battles, against the odds.

In Pursuit of Sport

There is no sports culture in India. Playing sports begins as games period in school and tends to remain right there. People believe that it has nothing to do with career development. Grown ups do not encourage it, leaders don’t endorse it and the youth doesn’t take it seriously. There is good news however. There is an increasing desire for fitness in India and a number of sports are starting to gain traction.

Brand Perception

There are perceived differences among the top sports brands. However these are nuances, rather than big points of difference. People tend to own items across sports brands and make choices based on functional parameters such as comfort, quality, price, colours and style.

Brand ambassadors for Nike, Reebok and Adidas are recalled especially among the athletes. Advertising recall is low for all four sports brands. A few people mentioned the Reebok Zig Zag shoe ad and latest John Abraham ad. Two people from the groups remembered the line ‘Bleed Blue’.


What can Nike mean to the youth of India

Nike is cool. It is considered to be trendy, young and sporty. It is a very positive brand with no down side. However, the true spirit of Nike is absent in the Indian market and it connects with the youth only at a surface level. Even Nike’s association with cricket is not apparent to many.


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