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Nike curation

March 17, 2005

There is a great post on Grant McCracken’s blog about “curation”. It’s the story of a chance meeting with a Nike executive on a plane. The executive explains how Nike sends out its creative teams into the field to “curate” sports. Like amateur archeologists, they dig deep into the sport seeking inspiration and language, in this story it’s the discovery of a sign in a soccer locker room that read, “no boots in the shower”, a line so authentic, Nike used it (?) McCracken describes it as a line “too quirky not to have come from real life.”

McCracken makes an interesting point here about the need for authenticity. Sports brands often have to be seemingly “inside” the game and to provide a perspective that simply cannot be faked. This is hard, as “authentic” is one of the most over-used words in the advertising lexicon and the cues for authenticity are dangerously over-used, (black and white, grainy footage, documentary style, soul) even if you are genuine, use the cues and the consumer might think your another “wannabe”, but perhaps this is where a little “curation” can help.

The story reminded me of a classic Nike soccer spot that’s at least 10 years old. Apparently, the creative team shot 50 rolls of still film at public soccer pitches to ensure they captured the right “authentic” feel of amateur soccer, Curators”, well and truly ahead of their time!

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