Nike followed its "Write the Future" with the new online contest called "The Chance." Using soccer superstars featured in their (almost) universally loved spot "Write the Future", Nike hopes to inspire young soccer-wannabes to create their fan pages on Facebook, promote themselves there, and build a following in order to be selected for the Nike Academy Football Trials.
While this sounds like something coming straight from Simon Cowell's manual and thus may be thought to succeed just by sheer association, I still have my doubts. The idea for engagement is, in itself, not bad at all - it has a potential to generate a considerable buzz for Nike, and it has equal potential to solicit participation.
Here comes a question, though: the requirement for participation is to be at least 18 years of age. At that point, most soccer-talented youngsters have already either achieved some prominence going beyond their high school soccer league, or are signed up by a team. So, why do they need to Nike soccer academy? Sure, some of them may come from the gravely disadvantaged regions, and this is their chance to raise to global prominence. I'd like to think that those disadvantaged regions offer regular high-speed Internet access required for participation in the contest.
Where does this leave us, then? Will all those people who play soccer as a hobby, soccer fans, and amateurs. Can Nike academy turn them into next Ronney or Ronaldo at the age of 18 and more? Perhaps, but I wouldn't bet on it.
There's another thing, too. If research is to be believed, the Internet activity around the World Cup has reached the new high. Which means that people are actively looking up online for ways to express their fashion for soccer, connect with other fans, get information and commentary, and just participate in the discussions surrounding the World Cup. They are interested, motivated, and active target for all brands, and especially for the sports brands. Why not do something to help THEM instead have more fun, cheer their teams better, feel greater participation, and engage in a bigger debate? Granted, brands are doing some of this, albeit rather shyly.
At the same time, a simple Twitter update about the attire coaches choose to wear for the games has a potential to solicit a lively debate, like it did last night. Comments like "USA coach looks like a gym teacher," "British coach looks like he is on a museum board," or "German coach is an ad guy," poured from everywhere, adding up to each other. If I knew how to make things on the Internet, I would make a site where people can fill in who all coaches remind them of. At the end, there's a winner based on the most frequent association. Small and silly, but apparently something that spurs people's imagination and passionate responses.
This only reminds me that rarely brands encounter a target group of scale, passion, and participation than the World Cup gathered this month. I can't help but think that, this time around, Nike's missing its chance.