Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Nike's Trevor Edwards: My Conversation With Him


For my documentary on Nike, which premieres on Tuesday at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET, I interviewed more than 30 people. One of them was Trevor Edwards, Nike's vice president of global category and brand management. Trevor and I focused on how advertising has changed.

Before I run this Q & A, check out the new ad for the show. I love what the people here have done.

And now, I present my conversation with Trevor Edwards.

Darren: How has advertising changed over time for Nike?

Edwards: So in 1984, for example, it was really a time when the family sat all sat down and watched TV together. But when you think about it today, it has changed significantly. The family doesn't sit down all together. The kids get this opportunity to see the world on their own terms. And that's really changed the way we connect with our consumers.

Darren: How so?

Edwards: Well, we help people do whatever they want to do. Nike Plus was for people who were running and we gave them the opportunity to figure out how far you ran and log your runs. Then we brought it online and that was a huge thing for us. So it went from advertising to being more about engaging the consumers.

Darren: Are you closer to your consumer to a purchase than you were before through traditional advertising?

Edwards: Well, we know a lot more now. Before it was like people would watch a great piece of advertising and then they'd go to some store and try to figure it out. Today, what people do is they get the opportunity to say, "I love that. I want to see it just a bit further." Or if people see a great advertisement and we create something that's really powerful, people pass it on to their fans. So what we are finding is that people have turned what used to be just plain old communications into social currency.

Darren: Tell me about the Ronaldinho YouTube ad

Edwards: That was a really fun moment. We created this small video with him where he kicks the ball against the goalposts. We dropped it directly on YouTube before YouTube had really become what it is now today. And I think today it's probably up to about 30 million views and continues to grow.

Darren: Does that help sell Nikes?

Edwards: Absolutely.

Darren: What have you learned about how advertising leads to purchasing decisions?

Edwards: We can never say we actually know exactly what influences someone's purchasing decision. What we do know is that there's a multitude of things. For us, we've always started with a very simple idea, which is to make a better product. And we do that because we connect with athletes. We then present that inspiration back to the consumer and they get to learn why they might want to buy that product.

Darren: Before you had 30 seconds, an ad, to convince someone to buy a product. How much time do you have now?

Edwards: You know, in some respect, you have less time. Because it's either on or it's off. It either works or it doesn't and the consumer will let you know very quickly. The great thing about what has happened in terms of how we connect with consumers today is you can get much better feedback around things like that. The other thing we've really learned is that the journey actually continues after they buy the product, as we're actually starting to do with Nike Plus.

Darren: Michael Vick and Marion Jones going to jail. Both Nike endorsers. When things like this happen many people say it changes the endorsement game. Is that true?

Edwards: I don't think so. Great athletes do amazing things They inspire us. But, like us, they're human and sometimes they do things that we all would hope that they didn't do. So it's important for us as we think of our brand to make sure we do protect the reputation of the brand. At the same time, we always go under the assumption first that the athlete is innocent until proven guilty.

Darren: Tell me about the New York City Running Club that Nike created.

Edwards: Most people really want to figure out when they are buying shoes how well they run with them. So what we did is we created an environment that allows the consumer to get a real running experience. If you choose to buy Nikes or not, we'll go out for a run with you. We'll show you some tips on how to run that much better. And our business has done really well.

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