Opportunity Lost: NikeFuel, Gamification & Making a Difference

Nike+ & NikeFuel are beautiful examples of a brand living their values (Just Do It!) via technology and community. A new campaign by one of the biggest consumer brands in the world brings those elements into sharp focus by combining user’s NikeFuel points with love for their favorite college basketball teams.

But they missed an opportunity to create something really special.

Nike Fuel Points

Screenshot from the Fuel Your Team site

A good friend posted on Facebook today, requesting his friends who were fellow alumni of his college to “pledge their Nike+ Fuel and get on board!”. As someone who has been working with Quantified Self ideas / technology, is a fan of Nike’s marketing efforts, and pays way too much attention to the use of game mechanics in digital experiences, this was definitely worth a look.

NikeFuel (part of the Nike+ ecosystem) is a line of products including wristbands, apps, and watches that all collect data on movement (calories burned, steps taken), let you set goals, provide insights and convert all of this to points for personal optimization and social sharing. It is a great example of Quantified Self, a movement where users are collecting, analyzing and learning from the their data (via mobile, wearable and pen-and-paper techniques). The Fuel Your Team campaign allows owners of NikeFuel products to “claim their team” from a list of US college basketball teams. As each person claim’s their team (you can claim any team, whether you are alumni or just a huge fan) they can pledge their NikeFuel points to that team, which raises their standings on the leaderboard.

Screenshot from the Fuel Your Team website showing the teams and the Fuel points their fans have earned

Screenshot from the Fuel Your Team website showing some of the teams and the Fuel points their fans have earned and pledged.

Quantified Self?
Absolutely.
Social?
Very sharable (don’t ever underestimate the power of school pride) and Nike has real brand love, and the resulting message amplification to make this take off
Gamification?
Personal earning of points AND seeing my points result in my team’s standings change = YES. Nike has foreshadowed that as the program rolls forward more achievements will be unlocked (presumably for the team)

All in all, it’s a pretty simple, yet compelling effort. Users of NikeFuel are advocates and LOVE to talk about their FuelBand and how it helps them. For fans of College Basketball this is the “most wonderful time of the year” (you can blame me later for having that song stuck in your head). For all intents and purposes, this program is a win as it stands (will it drive sales of FuelBand? Probably). But there is one thing in the whole program missing, especially all these years after Social Media went from being an experiment to an expectation.

Where is the social-good moment in the program? How is the world’s biggest sneaker company/iconic brand / driver of sport-as-lifestyle around the world paying it forward/giving it back/starting a movement of people beyond adding points? They have the “megaphone” of brand awareness, channel and spend. They have a product their users love (and have racked up over 4 billion points since it’s launch a little over a year ago). What if they did something different?

  • Every College in the Fuel Your Team program decided to “adopt” a cause they and their fans could rally behind:
    • Gonzaga decided to join the fight against Juvenile Diabetes
    • Michigan State fans took on Pancreatic Cancer
    • Syracuse rallied it’s fans to support the Wounded Warrior Fund
  • Nike and select partners pledge to donate money to the individual causes based on the Fuel points earned.
  • Each school organizes to raise Fuel points from students, alumni and fans AND works on fundraising drives for their “adopted cause”.

To get there would take a considerable amount of work, but the concept of Social Good (ht to Drew Olanoff) isn’t a new one. The effort would require choosing the participating causes, negotiating the minimum contribution they could receive, matching the cause to the individual schools in a way that is fair, getting the budget together for the donations, organizing the fundraising infrastructure that would properly allocate and credit the schools for the donation, digital and mobile efforts, PR and Marketing, the privacy policy and a lot more – but none of these things compares to the work that goes into launching a sneaker, and NIKE literally wrote the playbook for that.

We wonder what this program would look like when the schools and fans got behind a great cause

A composite photochop of what we think  this program could be – where teams, causes and fans are aligned, brought to you by the awesomeness of NIKE

I love what NikeFuel is doing with this program (simple, direct, crowd-driven and based on love for their product AND College Basketball AND the individual schools). NikeFuel + Gonzaga is a fun idea, but NikeFuel+Gonzaga+Cystic Fibrosis is full of awesome. Considering how often Brand-Cause partnerships are looked at with distrust, this is a tough sell, but think about much real change in the lives of real people that Nike, the Colleges and their fans could create with a program like this?

Love it? Hate it? How would you hack this idea?

Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

This entry was posted in Apparel, Branding, Causes, Games, Quantified Self, Wearables and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Opportunity Lost: NikeFuel, Gamification & Making a Difference

  1. Team Sports says:

    These brands have been doing its best since it started in the business, and we all just hope that they get better each year. They could offer the best products for athletes out there. And pretty sure they have more to offer.

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