The Wieden + Kennedy created TV campaign sees rowers, baseball players, runners, wrestlers and rugby players competing in towns called London in Canada, Ohio and Nigeria among others.
Although the campaign does not appear to break any rules designed to protect the investment of sponsors, the timing of the launch of the campaign – two days before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games – and the references to London are likely to fuel the debate on ambush marketing.
Adidas has paid millions to declare an official association with the Olympic movement in its marketing. According to most surveys, however, Nike are more closely associated with the Olympics than Adidas among consumers.
Nike had been using Olympic hopefuls such as Mo Farrah and Paula Radcliffe in its Make It Count activity. However, a law preventing non-sponsors from using competing athletes in campaigns came into effect last week (16 July).
A Nike spokesman insists no rules have been breached. “Our ad was submitted and cleared by the UK advertising authorities. We believe it represents the idea that greatness can be found in anyone, anywhere, and using locations called London around the world at the time people are focusing on London in the UK is a way to emphasise that point.”
An outdoor and press campaign features amateur sportsmen and women “finding their greatness” in uncelebrated places away from sports arenas. One execution features a tennis player and the line “greatness doesn’t only exist in SW19”, a reference to Wimbledon.