nike: the wrong time to sell

This weekend, I reached a milestone on the NikePlus system. 500 miles. This means that I've been using their system for 500 miles. Telling my friends about their product for 500 miles. Convincing my friends to join the system for 500 miles. For 500 miles, I've been a NikePlus brand advocate.

How does Nike celebrate this momentous occasion? With a coupon for "free shipping" on a Nike 500 mile club t-shirt. A $28 t-shirt. I've been your advocate for 500 miles, and I'm repaid with a marketing offer? Pffffffft.

I accept (and embrace) marketing on the home page, when I use the product. But product marketing used as an award feels wrong here. Why not give 500 mile users a keychain? A bracelet? Or GIVE them a $28 t-shirt? That's a bunch of t-shirts that will elicit additional conversation about the product. Or, don't give anything but the virtual trophy and badge for their profiles. (Which would have been just enough.)

Brian Morrisey points out a bunch of other problems with NikePlus. You can't export your data. (Data portability is the future.) You can't find and connect with friends (outside of challenges). He's right. Worse, the system is filled with minor (but super annoying, over time) software bugs. They've added cute features like silly avatars (no thanks), but ignore software bugs that plague their most avid users.

For the brands that believe Nike beat them to's your chance. Create a product that connects your users. And is social in the way that social tools have become central to our lives (like Twitter & Facebook). Maybe even integrate with them. And update your software. Fix your bugs. If you're going to play web 2.0, learn from the best. Continually improve, like the best Google products, or any 37Signals products.

NikePlus: I love you. You've inspired me to run, and made me love the Nike brand more than I ever did before. But icky marketing and software bugs eat away at brand love bite by byte.


Giuli said...

And it's just a cotton tshirt - not even a technical shirt that you could wear while actually running.

Come on Mizuno+

Unknown said...

Bugs = Godin's "broken windows"

Data portability is/will be huge. Hopefully librarians won't miss the boat, again.

Anonymous said...

We should start a thread about what these software bugs are.

darryl ohrt said...

Great idea, anonymous. Here's my top three bugs:

1. Remember me on sign in(!!!)

2. Paula's congrats message after every single run between 400 and 500 miles.

3. Challenges not updating until a day later. Or days later.

And, the single most important item on my wish list:

+ True social media. Locate friends, and see when they're running, twitter style. "Darryl just logged a 6.2 mile run." (But only my friends see).

Unknown said...

I did a google search for "nike plus run club t shirt free shipping' and your blog was the first hit.

I received the same email you did, but I've somehow deleted it. I want to get one of the T-shirts (cotton or not) but I'd like to get the free shipping if possible. $28 + $8 shipping seems a bit steep to me for a T shirt. If you still have the email you got from Nike, would you be so kind as to share the free shipping code with me, either posting it here, or emailing me andrewkral at

Thanks in advance,

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