Vapormax To The Stratosphere

According to Adweek, Space150 attached Nike’s new Vapormax to a weather balloon and sent it high into the stratosphere.

The shoe looks nice up there, I must admit.

But why is this shoe 117,500 feet above the California desert?

Is Nike just doing it because they can? Is this what “Just Do It” means today?

“Look, a disembodied shoe! I want one!” Does anyone really say this or think it?

As someone who believes in the power of content marketing, I support bold initiatives and there is innovation here, so I want to make room for experimentation. At the same time, it’s necessary to see how content connects to (and enhances) the brand story while driving interest in the company’s offerings.

David Ogilvy said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” I don’t always agree with this blanket statement, but to reject it outright would be foolish. We all know that a lot of content falls short of Ogilvy’s high mark, just like most advertising.

Another legendary adman, Howard Gossage, said, “Our first duty is not to the old sales curve, it is to the audience.” Gossage appears to counter Ogilvy’s thinking on the matter, but that’s an illusion. Both men were expert at promoting and selling their clients’ goods and services.

Key takeaway: Support the audience’s desires for information and entertainment—which makes it ‘creative’—and everyone wins.

If content marketing is to be taken seriously again and applied judiciously, the work must clearly serve the audience. Nike’s disembodied shoe does serve the gearhead audience who loves to gaze lovingly at athletic shoes. But where is the connection to athletic excellence here? No such connection means the work is limited in reach and possibly effectiveness. As a buzz marketing one-off, it works, but the overall impact could be strengthened by connecting this new product story to Nike’s brand story in a more direct manner.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.