APG-U.S. Account Planning Awards: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Client: Nike
A grassroots plan brings together two unlikely allies: Nike and skateboarders.
Nike wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms when it entered the skateboarding market. Skaters, already wary about the mainstreaming of their sport, viewed Nike as the ultimate big company–a corporation that, they suspected, didn’t know anything about skateboarding.
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners was asked to create Nike’s first skateboard advertising. While Nike would be selling skateboard shoes, the primary objective for the advertising was not to meet a particular sales goal. Rather, it had a more basic, grassroots task: to develop a relationship between the brand and skaters, and change how they view Nike in skateboarding.
The art director, who’d been skateboarding since 1976, gave us our starting point. Given how few skateboard parks exist, he knew most skaters have no choice but to skate on the streets, performing tricks off railings, curbs, sloped walls, etc. In the experience of riding on the street, he believed we’d find a powerful emotional trigger.
To help us better understand that experience and the power it could have in advertising, we recruited skaters off the street for informal focus groups at the agency. In talking to the skaters, two things became clear:
* Skateboarders feel persecuted. All they want to do is skateboard, but they are made to feel like they’re scum. They get dirty looks, people spit on and yell at them and cops write them tickets and confiscate their boards.
* Skateboarders feel that skateboarding isn’t being appreciated as a sport. Unlike traditional athletes, skaters have no coaches and no scheduled practices. But skaters point out that one has to be a great athlete to pull off a 50-50 grind on a railing.
To establish a relationship between Nike and skateboarders, we created a strategy that spoke to them as athletes, acknowledging their feelings of persecution and harassment. Rather than show what skaters go through, the creatives took the approach of turning the skaters’ experience inside out. The campaign asks, “What if we treated all athletes the way we treat skateboarders?”
The question is answered in TV spots that subject runners, golfers and tennis players to what skateboarders go through every day. The ads ran on broader media so, in addition to talking to skateboarders, they actually became a PR campaign for skateboarders with the general public, rendering Nike’s “bigness” a good thing. Only Nike had the resources to get people to think more about how they treat skaters and about the lack of places to skate.
The campaign has generated a wealth of grassroots results, everything from skaters using the ads to fight tickets in court and to lobby city councils for skateboard parks, to skaters thanking Nike for defending them. A skate magazine even noted that a cop went easy on some skaters, saying, “I agree with the Nike ads.”
The campaign has more than met its objectives. As one skater said: “Nike brought skateboarding something no one else could.”
Sue Levin, Women’s Brand Dir.
Chris Zimmerman, U.S. Advertising Dir.
Nancy Monsarrat, Category Advertising Dir.
Debbie Carter, Category Advertising Man.
AGENCY: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Pam Scott, Planning Dir.
Diana Kapp, Account Planner
Jeff Goodby, Creative Dir.
Karin Onsager-Birch, Art Dir.
Jeff Huggins, Copywriter
Rene Cournoyer, Account Dir.
Sarah Thompson, Account Man.