NikeGrid – a unique brand experience for London’s runners

NikeGrid has cleverly mixed numerous channels to create a unique brand experience for London’s runners over 2 weeks.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Nike created a game board out of the map of London, breaking it into a grid of 48 postcodes with four phone booths in each connected to the game. Runners played by logging into a phone booth with their unique game code, running to the next phone booth and logging out.  Points were earned for each run and badges for different feats – running multiple postcodes, running at night or in the morning, running each combination of phone boxes in a postcode etc.  Teams could be formed, with special rewards for University teams. Each runner is automatically part of a regional team (north, south, east or west).

The game tapped into the competitiveness of the running community – some runners were out day and night, clocking up miles, postcodes and speed badges. More casual runners were encouraged to give it a go, rewarded points for each run and easily earning a few badges to reward their efforts and encourage them to continue.

The game’s desktop website showed the postcodes, location of the phone boxes and gave a feed of the latest runs and points tallies. Seeing others rack up points was a persuasive tactic to keep people competing and running. Using Facebook Connect to register made it very easy to get started.

The mobile site had a specific purpose to show the location of each phone booth – the map’s weren’t the best but the site was quick and simple on the go. Finding the phone boxes was part of the fun.

The phone boxes themselves – considered an outdated and often forgotten feature of the cityscape – were vital to the game.  Each had a poster with a map of the current postcode. With an implicit dramatic connection to Mission Impossible, the use of the phone boxes sparked a sense of adventure in those taking part. Inevitably meeting other runners at the phone boxes  built a sense of shared experience and community. They became water-coolers of the streets.

There was a possibly deliberate sparsity of  ‘official’ information or updates on the website – perhaps to encourage use of the NikeGrid Facebook page. With nearly 5000 fans,  this was where runners could share stories, tactics, how far they’d run, hidden phone boxes, reporting dangers, giving support and encouraging competitiveness. Facebook updates automatically updated newsfeeds with new points and badges, sharing NikeGrid with the world outside the game.

Animated data visualisations were shared on the NikeGrid YouTube channel each day, using the data they were collecting to maintain engagement in the game when partipants were not running and motivate different teams and individuals.

Subtly linked to Nike running products, runners could earn 100 points for connecting a Nike+ profile to their NikeGrid profile. Mentioning you were competing in a Nike store earned you a goody bag. This wasn’t mentioned anywhere officially until late in the game and was an unexpected reward for those who discovered it.

It ends with a party after the final day of running.

This was a niche, presumably low-cost but powerful campaign that has had the committment of the competitive runners of the city for 2 weeks solid.  Nike set up and provided the game mechanism then stepped back to watch the game unfold with minimal intervention. A positive brand experience, a 5000 people strong community and a reinforcement of Nike’s connection with running in a highly targeted way all in 2 weeks. Nike done good.


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