Quite often I have conversations where I’m left defending the role of advertising, or more specifically, selling. In general, people don’t like being sold to. That’s a fact and there’s no getting away from it. People love to buy things though, so selling can’t be all bad. The key point, in my view, is that there’s a difference between selling something and selling at someone.
Nike’s Olympics-ad-that’s-not-an-Olympics-ad is a case in point. Title ‘Find Your Greatness’, it’s not selling trainers or t-shirts. There’s no plug for the latest football or bit of kit that can make you faster. Instead, it focuses on the achievements of amateur athletes. It lauds the effort and achievement of those outside the elite. It’s inspiring stuff and, crucially, it’s also selling.
It’s selling an idea, it’s saying that all sporting endeavours should be lauded. It’s saying that Nike applauds your sporting achievements. It inspires you to get out there and participate. In the process of all that participation, they’ll sell some more trainers and FuelBands, they’ll probably sell a lot of t-shirts too. It’s selling without selling at you.