When Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf this past week, he sported the latest prototype of his signature shoe, Nike TW ‘17, at the Hero World Challenge. Digital marketing efforts, such as blogs, display ads, and social media posts, flooded our feeds to announce this debut alongside the help of the key influencer, Woods. While many were excited for Woods to step back on the course, others were simply anticipating the newest pair of kicks. It was the introduction Nike wanted for their all-new golf footwear.

Launching a product isn’t like it used to be. Today’s news pace is nothing short of exhausting. “Traditional” media is made up of a small number of publications. Getting attention has become more difficult and competitive, even for larger brands. For a successful product debut, marketers have to start planning as early as possible to build digital momentum.

Nike knew they couldn’t rest on last year’s laurels. Woods hadn’t played in a competitive golf tournament in over a year, and during his last live appearance he wore the TW’11s, not the ‘15s. They needed to do something different.

Prior to launch, Nike made the product available to important influencers. Woods was key, as it’s his shoe, but they knew they needed more. Encouraging influencers to use your product — then talk about it — generates buzz, links, and brand mentions. Credible influencers and outlets are integral resources, and smart brands know to build those prior to launch.

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While Woods spent considerable time in rehab, Nike’s Senior Director of Athlete Innovation, Tobie Hatfield and team focused on creating a shoe that speaks to the brand and Woods’ first live-return to the course. Instead of simply updating the TW’15, Nike developed four prototypes and sent them to Woods, and he eventually selected one for the launch.

While the product team iterated, the marketing department was busy executing their strategy — social media awareness, content development, and search engine optimization. They used consistent blogging, public relations efforts, and social media posts to lead up to this past week’s Hero World Challenge, resulting in over two thousand retweets and seven thousand favorites from just one tweet by Woods.

The Nike TW’17s will be available in the Spring of 2017. Buzz continues to spread from Woods’ appearance, the release continues to rollout, and anticipation and intent-to-buy will keep building. Welcome to the new way to launch.

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