About two months ago, iTunes and Nike gave away a 30 minute treadmill workout mix featuring the band Ok Go. The recipients of the mix were the 400,000+ members of the Apple Students group on Facebook. 

You probably best know Ok Go from their viral sensation in which they created a music video of one of their song while dancing on treadmills. (It’s a must see if you haven’t seen it already.)

Ties to infamous treadmill viral are pretty obvious. Workout instructions are given by Ok Go’s Damian Kulash and Tim Nordwind, along with their sarcastic comments like, “we are treadmill gods…and well..you are not.”

When I first saw the Ok Go and Nike collaboration I thought it was a cool idea, but I didn’t see it as anything more than a quick way to capitalize on a viral trend to bolster their brand a bit.

But that all changed when I was pointed to (via Pure Thinking) a recent article in the Times, The New Advertising Outlet: Your Life.

The article explores Nike’s ongoing efforts of providing “an experience” opposed to a sales pitch, and in turn, their departure from traditional advertising mediums. Nike has found that connecting with customers on grassroots level, much the way Nike started in it’s beginning, is becoming more and more effective.

Stefan Olander, Nike’s global director for brand connections, describes Nike’s strategy:

Nike executives say that much of the company’s future advertising spending will take the form of services for consumers, like workout advice, online communities and local sports competitions.

We want to find a way to enhance the experience and services, rather than looking for a way to interrupt people from getting to where they want to go. How can we provide a service that the consumer goes, ‘Wow, you really made this easier for me’?

With that in perspective, what better way to connect to college students (and beyond) at a grassroots level than through viral? And they aren’t trying to push products, they are adding something value to an existing experience.


We all know power of the viral. And we also know that it’s virtually impossible to intentionally create something viral.

  • So should we take one out of the Nike playbook and find a viral success to attach our brand to?
  • Would this approach even work for other products or brands?