PICNIC 08 – Commercial Collaborations: Tools, Things and Toys

On: September 25, 2008
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About Ali Balunywa
I have 20 years experience in the print media in Africa and Europe. I am in possession of a Bachelors degree in social sciences from Makerere University in Kampala and a post graduate diploma in Journalism and Media management. I am currently following a Masters of Media in New Media studies at the University of Amsterdam.


Michael TchaoPresenter: Michael Tchao, General Manager; Nike Techlab/ Nike+, at Nike which connects physical products with virtual online services and athlete communities.
11.55 AM, 25 September 2008

Mike Tchao started his presentation by introducing Nike’s digital collaboration with Apple computers called Nike+.


He added that through digital innovations, sports will be transformed. Doing so would turn information into inspiration. Nike is looking for an emotional demand connection by re thinking running. Digital technology provides information to runners on how far, how long, how fast one is running or how many calories have been used.

This technology has evolved since 1987 (sonar technology), 1999 (tumour), 2002 (a modern system; emotional experience.)

Nike made an analysis of runners and grouped them into a pyramid. The apex with a few people had the core runners who are self motivated. The rows below have fitness runners, walk runners and the inactive. These people according to Nike need motivation. Nike took it upon itself to come up with a solution.

Nike in another survey established that today 75% of runners run with music and 40% would not run. It has also been established that over 150 million Apple Ipods have been sold and that Nano is the most popular. A connection was thus made between sport and music. Thoughts of a link were important.

Two years ago, Nike and Apple launched a partnership. A GPS sensor was placed in a Nike shoe. It links with an Ipod transforming it into a system that records how you are running, where, how long and other services. It congratulates a runner on completing a run or achieving a target or breaking a record.

After the run one can log into the Nike website for more information. Once logged in, you can set goals; targets etc and Nike will assist you to achieve them by offering information through the Ipod.

A social community network has been established virtually connecting all runners all over the world. It provides information on who is ahead, who is behind or who is buying lunch! The application also allows you to set up a goal before running and provides you real-time data on your run.

The Nike community is thus connected!Nike has gone further to start organizing international runs; women marathons, a digital running community! On 31 August 2008, Nike organized the human race which took place in 26 cities in 26 countries all over the world. Some of the proceeds of the race were donated to charity.’

The question Mike raised at the end of his presentation is what if Nike got the whole world to run?

My answer is that Nike would hundreds of billions in sales! Nike has strategically placed itself in a position to be the leading sports shoe seller. This is one thing Mike did not tell us. A running Nike shoe costs around US $100.00. With a virtual community tightly connected, who needs any other advertising medium? The income that Nike is reaping from its technological innovation is quite enormous. Music and sports are 2 things that today’s generation has embraced fully. If they can be tightly knit in a social community network, no sale could be easier.

For purposes of the New Media studies, Nike’s virtual social community and the Nike+

chip in the shoe are of special significance.

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