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Using Color To Connect With Customers

nike_4shoes.gifIt has been just a year since Nike launched their PHOTOiD campaign. This campaign allowed consumers to use their mobile phones to choose colors they liked from the world around them, and have these colors incorporated into a customized pair of Nike running shoes.

This was one of the first campaigns to exploit visual interactivity to engage consumers, and although the campaign is no longer active, it is still a great example of creative use of innovation for marketing.

Nike has been giving consumers the option of creating customized shoes, bags, and clothes since 1999 with its NIKEiD service. People can choose from a set of special colors and materials on the site, and their specialized product is shipped to them.

Nike wanted to go further, and asked mobile agency AKQA to provide consumers with access to the NIKEiD service through their mobile phones. PhotoiD was intended to strengthen Nike’s position as a brand that leads by innovation and pioneering new experiences.

According the AKQA website, “We created Nike PhotoiD, the ultimate fusion of mobile technology and creative shoe design, giving sneaker heads the chance to create unique kicks from any inspiration, at any time.”


How it works

The service was very easy for a consumer to use.

  • First, they would simply find some colors in the real world that they thought would look good in sneakers, and take a photo of the colors with their phone.
  • Then, using MMS, they would send the image to a special Nike number.
  • The service would identify the two dominant colors in the image, match them with colors available from Nike, and generate a picture of a Nike sneaker in those colors
  • Finally, the consumer would receive an image of their shoe superimposed on top of the original image they had sent.

The entire process, from the time the MMS was first sent, was usually a matter of seconds, making it a very interactive consumer experience.




Once the consumer had received the special image, they could save it to use as wallpaper, forward it on to a friend to see, or go to the NIKEiD website and enter a unique DESIGNiD code to actually purchase the specially designed shoe.

Visual Interactivity

This campaign is a very good example of visual interactivity, the idea of using the image capture and processing capabilities of a mobile phone as a means of consumer interaction. This growing area of mobile marketing includes 2-D codes (eg QR Codes), image recognition, image zoning, and augmented reality. (See MobiAD article Visual Interactivity: The Next Great Way To Engage Consumers).

Although the concept behind this campaign is quite simple – identify the dominant colors in a photo and match them to existing product colors – it is actually quite a technical challenge. Mobile phone cameras are not at all consistent in how they treat color, and effects from various light levels, shading, etc make it quite difficult to accurately pick out and match colors.

The power of this campaign was that it matched state of the art visual technology with an very easy to understand and use interface, and applied it to a strong consumer desire – the wish to more easily customize their lives.

The Campaign

NIKE PHOTOiD was rolled out in nine territories across Europe including; UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Here is a fun video that Nike used to promote the mobile service.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="320" height="265" wmode="transparent" /]

The campaign has also won many awards over the past year, including

MMA Global Innovation award
Revolution award for Innovation
IMA Special Award for Technological Innovation
D&AD Silver Pencil for Mobile Marketing
OMMA Awards 2008 – Best In Show

More recently, NIKE PHOTOiD won the Mobile Campaign of the Year award at the Mobile Advertising UK event.

Jonathon MacDonald, founder of the sponsoring organization EverySingleOneOfUs, explained that the campaign had won the award “due to their close attention to user experience, in terms of a highly relevant and transparent offering that was easy to interact with, whilst showing a clear incentive of value.”

Paolo Tubito, director of brand connections, Nike Europe, Middle East and Africa, said “Where past use of MMS in mobile marketing campaigns has typically focused on short-term, one-way interactions between brands and consumers, Nike PhotoiD opens a genuine creative dialogue between the brand and its audience.”

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