By David Walker

Who doesn’t love a good video? Done well, it’s a hugely engaging, instant gratification medium … and it’s an absolute gift for advertisers.

Once upon a time, we had a stark viewing choice – a few channels on the television or a movie at the cinema. You had precious little say in what you could enjoy.

Nowadays, the barriers have been removed and control has been ceded. The advent of the web has meant that we have become the curators of what we want to watch and how we watch it.

Increasingly, we’re making our own videos and uploading them to social media, watching everyone else’s YouTube clips, streaming our favourite shows through smart TVs and myriad devices, and hating ourselves for falling for celebrity-centric clickbait. We’re also happy to consume advertising when it’s on our own terms – even to seek out an advert, particularly so when it entertains.

It’s this heightened diversity and personalisation of viewing experience that makes the choices behind Nike’s latest advert all the more baffling. Now, there’s no doubt that Nike is a savvy brand – after all, it’s been around for 50 years, is valued at some $30billion, and has continued to inspire new generations with its empowering messaging and “all are welcome” image.

The Swoosh logo is instantly recognisable the world over and Nike has continued to thrive on strong visual content that has positioned it equally as high performance sportswear and on-trend street fashion – a strong look on everyone from Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo to your mum.

Surely its marketing should therefore get under the skin of, and attempt to define, that individuated experience?

So why then would Nike make an advert based solely around the capital, entitled “Nothing Beats a Londoner”?

It’s essentially a very watchable, engaging, and often funny three minutes of celebrity cameos, breakneck set pieces, and great camera trickery. One of the best ads ever made, some have even suggested. But, to me, it feels like a major misstep for an inclusive-minded brand.

Apparently Nike last year identified 12 cities as its greatest growth opportunities, and London predictably made the shortlist, alongside the likes of New York, Paris, Tokyo and Berlin.

Now, London has 13 per cent of the UK population crammed into a small corner of the country. I live in Glasgow, but I’m just as likely to need a pair of new trainers as the rest of the 87 per cent of people in the UK who don’t live in London.

I don’t give a damn what London thinks about anything, and my pride in my city is just as strong, if not stronger than those in the capital. And frankly, Nike should know that loads of things beat Londoners everyday – Tube strikes, astronomical house prices, Pret a Manger queues, lack of personal space, and dawdling tourists, to name just a few.

Nike thinks that London is the definition of hip and happening, and when it jumps, the rest of the UK jumps too. The rest of us see a vast 87 per cent of the UK populace living outside of it, all defined by marked regional differences, diverse character traits, unique local heritage, and resistance to one-size-fits-all globalisation.

There’s a strong perception that global brands don’t bother to speak to the UK’s regions, and “Nothing Beats a Londoner” is emblematic of that problem, particularly when it’s consumed by a wide online audience that reaches way beyond the confines of the English capital. They could have as easily said “Nothing Beats a Mancunian” or a Geordie, or a Cardiffer … our whole country’s made of stern stuff.

Can such geographically narrow campaigns actually hurt brands like Nike? I expect you won’t see a significant dent in its empire anytime soon, but in the long-term, Nike’s dismissal of the 87 per cent could open up big opportunities for its rivals to exploit a greater regional focus that speaks to specific audiences.

Understanding and getting to grips with the wants of consumers across the regions shouldn’t be rocket science in our data-driven times, and neither should Nike assume that London tastes have UK-wide appeal.

The sportswear giant should take its own advice and “Just Do It” – but do it a whole lot better by producing meaningful work that resonates with so many more than just Londoners.

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