News & Views

Nike / Nike’s Brand-Aid

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world

Sportswear giant gives away colourful bandages to encourage young athletes in China to play hard


Young athletes are one of Nike’s fastest growing segments in China. For the past two years, the brand has created campaigns on Children’s Day (1 June) to target this audience.

Nike’s 2017 Children’s Day campaign, called Badge of Honour, saw the brand give away colourful bandages to parents who bought sporting apparel for their children. Nike created four sets of 14 bandages, with each set representing a different sport: basketball, running, football and skateboarding.

On each bandage was a colourful comic book-style image. Each set of bandages came in a sleeve that framed them like comic book panels, and when read together, the designs told a story about a young athlete who picked themselves up after being knocked down.

The plasters were given away at selected Nike stores across China. Brand ambassadors posted pictures of themselves wearing the bandages on social media and shared links to animations that Nike created. These animations expanded on the stories told on the bandages and featured cameos from athletes including Su Bingtian, Asia’s fastest sprinter, and Zhao Lina, a goalkeeper on the national football team.

Wieden & Kennedy Shanghai created the campaign.


Contagious Insight / 

Building confidence and markets / Nike wants more children in China to play competitive sports because kids who take sport seriously have more need of the high-end apparel produced by the brand. W&K’s ECD in Shanghai, Ian Toombs, told Contagious that his team’s brief was ‘to help kids in China clear barriers that are preventing them from playing competitive sports’.

Besides the normal desktop research, planners from W+K went to local homes in China and observed kids’ behaviour, as well as the behaviour of parents. The planners discovered that although parents want their kids to have fun playing sport, they’re very nervous about them getting hurt, constantly telling them to slow down.

Toombs said this trait was understandably acute among China’s parents, given that the state’s one-child policy was only repealed in 2016. Toombs believed Nike’s response should be ‘to show parents the strength and confidence that competitive sports can bring to their kids’ lives.’

‘We created the Nike badge of honour as a symbol of encouragement,’ adds Toombs. ‘They’re bandages, they’re stickers, they’re unconventional storytelling devices.

'The badge of honour is a symbol of Nike’s dedication to sport in China. They’re cool and collectible, and athletes and celebrities were happy to wear them and post about them on social media. Also the cameos in our animated films extended the reach far beyond the retail experience.’

Nike and Wieden & Kennedy created a campaign that combined a utility, a medium and a message, and all of it reinforced the idea that ‘when you play, you play hard’. It’s an idea that provides a clear benefit to the brand by potentially expanding its market.



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world. I/O helps anyone in the world of marketing understand why brands are innovating, how they're doing it and with what success.

Learn more about Contagious I/O