Sometimes, You Can’t Run From Effective Marketing

May 10, 2012

As a marketing professional, I have supposedly developed a hypersensitivity to trite marketing ploys and tactics. It comes with the territory. Working in marketing hasn’t coarsened me as a consumer so much as it’s made me more observant. I have come to understand how I operate as a consumer, but that doesn’t mean my habits have changed.

Now and then, I willfully suspend my skepticism and morph into Consumer X, the free-spending rube who will buy exactly what his favorite brands want him to buy, thus rendering his favorite brands’ marketing campaigns successful.

I bring it up because I recently became a runner. That’s strange to write. What I mean to say is while I ran at other times in my life, now I do it recreationally. You know, on purpose. I like to run along the Mississippi downtown before work and around Lake Calhoun on the weekends. I hope to run my first half-marathon this fall.

Running requires appropriate gear — or so we’re told — which is why in the past month I have purchased:

  • Four long-sleeve shirts designed to wick away sweat
  • Three pairs of running socks
  • Two pairs of running shorts
  • One pair of running shoes

All of these products were made by Nike. That’s no coincidence, either.

In 2006, the Nike unveiled Nike+, a technology that featured a special chip placed in Nike+┬ácompatible┬árunning shoes that sent a signal to a synced iPod, relaying information like mileage, pace, splits and calories burned. The data could then be uploaded and stored on Nike+’s website, which acted as a social network for runners. Nike+ has since evolved. Runners no longer need shoes with Nike+┬ácompatibility and the software now exists in watches, heart monitors and mobile apps developed by Nike. The website now includes coaching tips, personal challenges and the ability to share workout information through Facebook and Twitter for peer motivation.

Since I’ve started running, I’ve tracked my progress on the Nike+ website. I now associate Nike with all things running, so when I shop at an athletic store, I never once consider buying a different brand. Compression shorts, sweatpants, replacement running shoes — I buy Nike.

Now, I know, as a consumer, I’m acting exactly as Nike hoped I would. I know I’ve been hypnotized by Nike+ and there’s absolutely no reason I shouldn’t explore products from Asics, Brooks, New Balance and other quality brands. Maybe I should be resentful of Nike for understanding me, a perfectly unique snowflake, so implicitly.

But sometimes, the gimmick is so great, the product lives up to its hype and the brand understands the consumer so perfectly, one is compelled to just go with it.

Or, just do it, I should say.