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Nike | Celebrity Endorsement


Traditionally, Nike was one of the leaders in the sportswear and sport shoes industry. However, the maintenance of the marketing position of the company raised a number of difficulties, which Nike had to overcome. In this respect, the recognition of the brand and the maintenance of its popularity is very important because today brand comprises an integral part of the marketing asset of any company. The maintenance of the positive brand image is grounded on the effective promotion of the brand. In this regard, Nike used different tools and strategies but the celebrity endorsement has proved to be one of the most effective strategies, which the company uses today successfully. The experience of the celebrity endorsement allowed Nike to attract customers and to promote its brand worldwide. On the other hand, the strategy of celebrity endorsement was used not only by Nike but also by its rivals, such as Reebok and Adidas, that increased the competition in the industry and provoked the competition between companies not only for customers but also for celebrities. Nevertheless, the strategy of celebrity endorsement is too effective for Nike to refuse, even though is strategy is quite expensive and highly competitive.


Nike’s brand today

Today, Nike is one of the most popular brands in the world. Moreover, people recognize Nike’s brand internationally that naturally facilitates the penetration of new markets by the company. The company holds one of the leading positions in the market and its brand contributes consistently to the popularity of the company. Therefore, the brand of the company increases the marketing value of Nike substantially. At the same time, to maintain the popularity of the brand, the company has to invest into the development and implementation of promotional campaigns and use other strategies, which help the company to attract the attention the audience to its products. In this regard, the company pays a particular attention to young and active people, who are interested in sport and who practice sport on the regular basis. In such a way, the company can reach its target audience using the power of its brand.

Evolution of Nike’s brand over time

However, Nike’s brand was not always as popular as it is today. In stark contrast, the company had a long way to go to reach the current success and recognition of its brand as one of top brands in the sportswear and shoes industry. The company has to develop its brand and promote its products to attract the attention of customers. The company invested substantial financial resources into its promotional campaigns, which brought the company positive outcomes and recognition of customers. In this regard, it is worth mentioning sponsoring of various sport events, support of different public, non-profitable organization, and celebrity endorsement. The latter has proved to be a particularly effective strategy to promote the company’s products and to create a positive brand image.

Target market and its change

Traditionally, Nike focused on the US market paying a particular attention to young people, who led an active lifestyle and practiced sport. However, in the course of time, the company expanded its target market and target customer group. To put it more precisely, Nike focused on the development of business internationally. This means that today the company views the international market expansion as one of the major goals of its marketing strategy. The company has to expand its market share to maintain its competitive position and to keep growing. Otherwise, the company faces a risk of losing its leading position in the market.

Furthermore, the company expands its target customer group along with international market expansion. What is meant here is the fact that today the company focuses not only on young people but also on adults and youth and, what is more, the company even attempts to engage the elderly population. In actuality, the target customer group of the company are people till the age of 50-60, who are interested in sport and who are concerned with their health. These people practice sport and attempt to lead an active lifestyle. The company maintains their interests to the healthy lifestyle, while its products are destined to meet needs of these people to practice sport and to lead an active lifestyle.

Position of competitors

In spite of numerous efforts of Nike to take the dominant position in the market, the company still faces a strong competition from the part of its rivals, such as Reebok, Adidas and others. Today, the competition in the market is high and Nike has to implement effective tools to maintain its position in the market (Holloway, 2004). Competitors hold positions similar to that of Nike and the competition increases as competitors expand their markets and struggle for new markets and larger share of the market.


Michael Jordan and Nike’s celebrity endorsement

The strategy of celebrity endorsement has proved to be very effective. At any rate, Nike used this strategy very successfully, especially after the involvement of Michael Jordan in its promotional campaigns. However, the involvement of Michael Jordan in terms of the celebrity endorsement strategy was successful only partially. What is meant here is the fact that Michael Jordan contributed consistently to the breakthrough of Nike in the American market. However, the celebrity endorsement involving Michael Jordan was focused on the younger generation mainly and, what is more, this celebrity endorsement was particularly successful in the US market only. In fact, Michael Jordan being popular in many countries of the world is still not so popular as international sport stars. Instead, he is very popular in the US due to his achievements in basketball. His involvement was successful in the US, where basketball is very popular and the youth admired Michael Jordan who was an idol for many young people, especially for African-American youth. In contrast to the US, Europe and many other countries of the world are not vulnerable to such a significant impact of basketball and Michael Jordan is not as popular as soccer stars are in Europe, for instance (Holloway, 2004). Therefore, the company failed to reach a tremendous success in the European market, which is comparable in size and potential to the American market. Nevertheless, if the company aimed at strengthening its position in the US with Michael Jordan’s endorsement, then the company has reached its goal.

Potential celebrities to endorse Nike’s brand

In fact, Nike could reach a larger success and to use celebrity endorsement more effectively, if the company used sport stars, which are popular worldwide. However, this strategy would raise the problem of the choice of the celebrity, who is popular worldwide equally. In other words, celebrities are more popular in their native countries and less popular abroad. Hence, the choice of the celebrity becomes difficult. To tackle this problem, Nike could localize celebrity endorsement strategy. What is meant here is the fact that Nike could use Michael Jordan as celebrity endorsement in the US and a popular soccer star in Europe and Latin America, for instance, L. Messy, who is currently one of the best soccer players in the world. He could bring Nike success for, in spite of his Argentinean origin, he plays in Europe. Therefore, Nike would reach both European and Argentinean or even Latin American markets.

Competitors and their celebrity endorsement

Competitors of Nike use the similar strategy but some of them prefer involving popular athletes, which have reached the international success. However, the strategy of celebrity endorsement is similar and practically all leading sportswear and sports shoes manufacturers use the strategy of celebrity endorsement, which has already proved its efficiency. Reebok, Adidas, and other companies use celebrity endorsement as a part of their promotional campaigns. Celebrity endorsement contributes to their formation of their positive public image and helps them to make their brands more popular.


Thus, it proves beyond a doubt that celebrity endorsement is an effective strategy that helped Nike to take one of the leading positions in the world market. At the same time, this strategy is used by Nike’s major rivals and the company need to expand its market share and involve new celebrities in its promotional campaigns.



Holloway, A. (2004). “Walk a Mile in Nike’s Shoes.” Canadian Business, 77(3), p.58.
Marshall, P. D. (2003). Celebrity and Power. New York: New Publishers.
Rojek, C. (2004). Celebrity. New York: Random House.