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  • Writer's pictureGushcloud International

Nike brings NewJeans out for concert activation: Are static brand ambassadors dead in 2024?



Nike recently made headlines when it not only collaborated with South Korean pop girl group NewJeans on a limited-edition collection but also flew the group down to Singapore for an exclusive concert at the Nike Orchard Store last month.


The concert, which took place on 3 February, marked the group’s first performance in Singapore, and saw throngs of people craning their necks for a glimpse of the girl group.


However, the closed-door and highly exclusive experience was only available for 75 Nike members who were selected through a contest that took place on the Nike app.


Fans had to download the Nike app on their mobile device, join Nike's free membership and answer the question, ‘Tell us why you are the biggest NewJeans fan’, to be eligible.


While the campaign aimed to deepen the penetration of the Nike app in the Singapore market, the buzzworthy collaboration also sparked questions regarding the evolving role of brand ambassadors.


More specifically, how much of a difference does it make when brand ambassadors go beyond 2D campaign assets and engage with fans in an immersive experience?


A loss of trust


The answer it seems is huge as static brand ambassadors have largely lost their effectiveness due to a drop in levels of consumer trust, according to Kimberley Olsen, co-founder of digital creative agency Yatta Workshop.


“People know that many of these ambassadors are most likely not real loyalists to the brand and are savvy to the amount of money being spent to use them for campaign endorsements,” Olsen explained.


This holds especially true in Singapore where people would rather turn to honest reviews from close friends and select influencers for recommendations, said Olsen, adding:

Countries such as Thailand and Philippines show that the use of brand ambassadors for campaigns are still highly effective.

When taking into account individual ambassadorships that include Gucci, Burberry and Armani Beauty to name a few, having NewJeans plastered on Nike’s merchandise is likely not going to capture the attention of consumers, according to Olsen. 


"Just like all big burst campaigns, brands will see a significant spike in their share of voice from using big named brand ambassadors for a short time period, followed by a dip, which is totally normal," she said.


She added that as marketers, their goal is to strategise sustained success by maintaining conversations and talkability post launch, through keeping conversations warm and fans excited till the next initiative.


This is where Nike’s private concert comes in as it provides its consumers who are fans of the girl group with a priceless experience. It makes them feel special and appreciated which has the potential to translate into brand loyalty.


“When brands position themselves as ones that know what their community want and show that they have the means to give them exclusive access to it as a reward for their brand loyalty not only boosts brand affinity, but also gives them great PR,” Olsen said.


Marketers also need to strategise sustained success by maintaining conversations and talkability post-launch to mitigate an eventual dip that follows big burst campaigns, further added Olsen.


The allure of exclusivity


In order to do that, it is necessary for a brand to put forth a level of exclusivity in the activation to create FOMO, said Alice Dall senior strategy director for Southeast Asia at Design Bridge and Partners


⁠”The allure of exclusivity. It's like being part of a secret club where only the chosen few get to experience the magic live,” said Dall, adding:

Let's not forget the social media frenzy that ensues – it's like free advertising, but with a sprinkle of FOMO for those who missed out.

Dall also explained that being in the era of active ambassadors in 2024, static posters have now become irrelevant as consumers crave experiences that will stay with them forever.


“Brands are ditching the passive approach and diving headfirst into immersive experiences that scream authenticity,” said Dall.


“It's not just about slapping a celebrity face on a billboard anymore; it's about forging meaningful connections and creating moments that resonate long after the lights dim,” she added.


The keys to your brand's kingdom


While it may seem that all brands should follow in Nike’s footsteps and engage their brand ambassadors in more live experiences this year, the grass is not always greener on the other side due to the high stakes that come with it, said Dall. 


“When your brand ambassadors step into the real world, it's like handing them the keys to your brand kingdom,” Dall said. “One misstep, and suddenly your brand is trending for all the wrong reasons. Remember, they're not just representing your brand during photo shoots; it's a 24/7 gig, and the stakes are high."


When discussing what marketers should be wary of with live engagements, Judy Byun country manager of Gushcloud Korea said that brands have to deal with cultural and communication differences and content optimisation challenges.


“Hence, during the process, there is a need for effective communication between our offices – we have to allow our local offices to define the preferences of the local audiences and our global talent office to manage the needs of the global talent,” explained Byun.

“This is particularly crucial as these elements cannot be edited out post-production, given the live nature of the experience,” she added.


The live factor also adds a logistical nightmare for capturing content especially when brands plan to use footage from the event across all their platforms.


Additionally, brands will be required to be quick thinking to creatively weave in their storytelling and create mini activations with super fans if brands want to effectively turn them into consumers, said Byun.


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