Nike pays tribute to its star Kobe Bryant, nicknamed ‘the Black Mamba’, on the day of his retirement, with a sport marketing campaign that has involved more than 200 of the brand’s athletes
The sport marketing campaign that Nike launched to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant on the day of his retirement as an NBA player was extraordinary, outstanding. As impressive as the performance of the ‘Black Mamba‘ in his last game: the Star of the Los Angeles Lakers put the finishing touch to his 20-year NBA career scoring 60 points against the Utah Jazz. Nike named the campaign ‘Mamba Day‘, from the nickname that Kobe has had since 2003 when he decided to assign it to himself in reference to his venomous response to attacks against his family.
Nike brought together all the symbolism it could to shape a marketing campaign that attracted the whole world under the motto “Love him or hate him”. A full-blown invitation to join the Black Mamba’s farewell, whatever feeling it provoked.
Two hundred Nike athletes participated in the brand’s tribute to Kobe, compiling a video message from its best athletes to the Lakers 24, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy (golf), Odell Beckham Jr. (American football), Neymar Jr (football), Kevin Durant and Lebron James (basketball), Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal (tennis), among others.
In another demonstration of brand image and power by the sponsor, Nike also left its mark in various scenarios, getting its athletes to compete in black shoes with the gold symbol in their different tournaments. Rafa Nadal wore this model in the ATP Monte Carlo, as did Roger Federer; while the golfer and current world number three, Rory McIllroy, took to the field of the Augusta Masters in the trainers, to name just a couple of examples.
Rafa Nadal, in the ATP Monte Carlo
Rory McIlroy, in the Augusta Masters
Fans also had a prominent place in the campaign, via a mobile application created especially to commemorate the date: 04/13/16. They were asked to share their last word on Bryant. And it was another bombshell: the hashtag #MambaDay was used 2.87 million times on the day of his retirement, half of them during the course of the game against the Utah Jazz; the video ‘The Conductor’ had 45 million views on a global level, and over 400,000 Mamba Day Generator posters were created by fans on mobile phones.
And as the final priority objective of any marketing campaign is to stir up emotions to boost sales, on its website Nike put on sale a limited edition of the model ‘Kobe 11 Mamba Day ID’ stamped with a series of numbers that have marked his brilliant career, which was sold out.
Kobe 11 Mamba Day ID model, limited edition
Two years ago, Nike created the campaign called ‘RE2PECT’ for fans and celebrities to say goodbye to the then captain of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter. The video had 8.8 million views and was considered the most effective digital campaign of the year.