I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, at the company’s lush Burnley headquarters and discuss their new hot product — the Nike FuelBand tm.
JPB — Mark, tell me about your hot new product here at your lush Burnley headquarters, the Nike FuelBand.
MP — First may I say thanks for coming to see me.
JPB — You may and you’re welcome.
MP — Well, Nike as a company has made a tonne of money from selling stuff to people who do sports. We make just as much selling to people who want to dress up like they’re doing sports.
JPB — Sounds like you’ve got all your bases covered.
MP — Yes and no. There are billions of people on the planet, I forget the exact number, but the important thing is that 90% of them don’t do sport or even dress up like they do sport.
JPB — An untapped market?
MP — Bingo. So the challenge we set ourselves was to sell something to those billions of people who have no interest in sport or fitness or Nike.
JPB — Quite a challenge, I’d imagine.
MP — Indeed although the solution came from the most unexpected of places.
JPB — And where was that most unexpected of places that the answer came from?
MP — Alton Towers. Here at Nike we’re always going out to fun places and we had our Christmas party at Alton Towers.
JPB — Never been.
MP — It’s awesome. Totally. Anyway, after a day queuing up and walking and going on rides we were all really tired.
JPB — I see where this is going!
MP — Exactly, it was my secretary who verbalised it. We were all going to go to Pizza Hut but she said she wanted to go home, she said that she felt like she’d run a marathon.
JPB — A real lightbulb moment.
MP — Certainly. She was exhausted from simply moving her body around. That lead on to the realisation that most people move, right?
JPB — Most do, my son doesn’t. He’s in an iron lung.
MP — Sorry to hear that but listen to this. Over the following weeks we developed the idea. The idea being ‘how great would it be to sell things to people who move?’ *laughter*
JPB — It was right there all along.
MP — It was right there all along.
JPB — Still you can’t just sell something that records movement.
MP — No, that’s been done. We had to incentivize it. Make these people who were simply moving feel special. Feel part of something.
JPB — Just for moving?
MP — Just for moving.
JPB — So how did you overcome that?
MP — Wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Obviously we needed to reward the people who moved but a ‘well done’ from the recorded voice of Lance Armstrong wasn’t going to do it. We went through a bunch of ideas. Simple Nike Points. Health points etcetera. But then my secretary inadvertently came up with the solution.
JPB — How so?
MP — I often watch her eat and I noticed that when she goes to the gym here in our lush offices in Burnley she will then spend the afternoon eating Maltesers.
JPB — She feels she’s earned them.
MP — Bingo! Man, you are super intelligent, I wish you worked here.
JPB — Thanks. So you had to link the moving to eating?
MP — Exactly, we’ve had calories for years and what difference have they made?
JPB — Dick all.
MP — *nodding* It’s tough to count calories, right? Nobody does it. Diets don’t work, right?
JPB — I believe that’s true.
MP — So we came up with our version of calories.
JPB — NikeFuel.
MP — NikeFuel. *laughter*
JPB — So these normal people buy the band, move about and earn NikeFuel and then-
MP — And then at the end of the day they see if they’ve reached their goal. If they have what are they going to do?
JPB — Tweet about it and then they’re going to hit MacDonalds.
MP — They’re going to hit it fucking hard. And why not? They think they’ve earned it. Just for moving a bit more than yesterday! *Laughter*
JPB — *Laughter*
MP — That’s not it all, there’s Facebook integration and all that jazz but most importantly this FuelBand doesn’t judge you. The faster you eat your BigMac the more points you’ll earn! And if they get real fat?
JPB — The strap is adjustable?
MP — Ha! The strap is adjustable but they might even get so fat they’ll have to buy a pair of our trainers!
JPB — Bravo.
MP — It’s pretty great. We can convince regular people that they are doing a sport when they’re just walking for a bus, it beggars belief really. The rewards they get are given to themselves by themselves and they give us$150 for the privilege.
JPB — In-fucking-credible.
MP — It really is.
JPB — Well Mark Parker, our time’s up here and — well, you don’t need it but good luck with the Nike FuelBand tm.
MP — Thanks fella.
While I was waiting outside for my taxi Mark’s secretary came out with a piece of paper. She told me it was for my boy from Mark Parker. He was touched by the fact my son couldn’t move.