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Good and Bad PR: Sporting hero for Nike and sporting zero for Becks

Good PR

When you’re a huge global brand like Nike, your PR efforts can’t just be good; they need to be awesome. That’s exactly what the recent Breaking2 initiative from the sporting giant was. If you haven’t heard about this yet, I feel bad for you; like you’ve missed out on the genius of it all, but also excited that I get to be the one to share the details with you. Breaking2 has been years in the making and was basically Nike’s attempt to see if the sub-two hour marathon was humanly possible.

Nike paid three runners from its sponsored roster of athletes, Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay, to forego the London and Berlin marathons this year and take part in the challenge. It wasn’t a case of just letting them loose on a running track to do their thing though; Nike wanted optimum conditions to give the runners the best possible chance of success and that meant a lot of planning was needed.

65 of Nike’s employees worked with a team of researchers at its Sport Research Lab for the project, from determining which candidates out of a choice of 20 were up for the task to choosing the venue for the challenge; which turned out to be the Formula One circuit in Monza, Italy.

It took place on 5 May at 5:45am local time and the runners had to complete 17 and a half laps of the 2.4km loop at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Each of the athletes wore a variation of the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite trainers for their attempt and ran behind pacemakers running in an arrow-head formation to reduce drag and a car projecting a green line on the road behind it to show what pace they needed to stick at to hit the sub-two hour target.

Eliud Kipchoge was the fastest of the three, but missed out on completing the marathon in less than two hours by just 26 seconds (his finish time was 2 hours and 25 seconds). Even though Eliud beat the world record of 2:02:57, it won’t legitimately count because of the non-confirming methods used (pacemakers and light beams).  None of that mattered though, because the level of coverage Nike achieved for the Breaking2 initiative was immense. The event wasn’t open to the public to watch, but everyone could do so via livestreaming on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, racking up millions of views.

And if you think this was extreme lengths to go to in order for Nike to sell its newest range of running shoes, I disagree. It was about much more than that and has fast become one of my favourite marketing campaigns. Being smug enough to challenge three seasoned athletes to beat their own personal records (not to mention a world record) takes balls and Nike definitely has the biggest of them all. Just Google ‘Nike Breaking2’ and see for yourself how glorious all the coverage has been.

Bad PR

Poor old David Beckham has been slated this week for his role in the upcoming film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which some have described as the ‘worst acting’ they’ve ever seen.

The 42-year-old footballing legend appears in the highly anticipated movie which arrives in UK cinemas next week on 19 May, alongside Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy fame. He plays a battleguard named Trigger and a short clip has been doing the rounds which people have been quite quick to judge on social media.

People have criticised Guy Ritchie, the film’s director and a close friend of Beckham’s, for casting him in the movie in the first place, saying it was ‘pointless’, ‘predictable’ and even ‘depressing’. Personally, I think the film clip is far too short to judge Beckham’s acting stills from, but the painfully low score the film received on Rotten Tomatoes (18%) is pretty damning.

The story has been picked up by the Mail Online, Telegraph and The Sun (all in a negative way) which is bad news for Beckham, Guy Ritchie and the movie.

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis @ShazzaYeti on Twitter

Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or on email

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