The “swoosh” is one of the most recognisable logos across the world and belongs to none other than the Nike brand. Nike saw considerable growth and success by the early 21st century, with retail outlets and wholesalers covering more than 170 countries. One of the reasons for this success is Nike’s mastery of integrated marketing communication, especially in the integration of sports sponsorship in their marketing campaigns.
The final quarter of 2019 was off to an exciting start for the second-year Marketing Management students when a former professional athlete turned businessperson and entrepreneur, Mr Ray Wicksell, presented an inspiring ‘Nike Heritage Talk’ on 1 October 2019.
All the theoretical knowledge that students had obtained on sports sponsorship was brought to life as Mr Wicksell “ran” through the journey of the Nike brand with the students. Students were provided with first-hand anecdotes that Mr Wicksell himself had lived through whilst working for the established Nike brand
in the United States of America (USA), alongside Nike founder Phil Knight. The success of Nike had much to do with Mr Knight’s unwavering passion at every step – success or failure – of the Nike journey and his willingness to work incredibly hard. Mr Wicksell was responsible for the merchandising and endorsing of major sporting heroes in the USA and was able to share unique success stories and some stories of caution. While working with major sports stars on our very own doorstep, Mr Wicksell garnered even further insights that provided a clear picture of the sponsorship landscape within South Africa. These anecdotes revealed the true value of aligning with the right sportsmen or sports team striving for the best brand fit and a common theme of success.
Mr Wicksell’s journey with the Nike brand was in itself an inspiring one, as he moved across continents to bring the Nike brand to life in South Africa and became the go-to person in charge of Nike’s marketing, subsequently managing some of the biggest names in the South African sporting industry. Students were also privy to exclusive Nike information, for example how to select and align with winners and the do’s and don’ts in sport marketing. He also revealed some of the existing gaps and opportunities available in South African sports sponsorship that could help brands leverage further success. After being given much to ponder regarding sports sponsorship in marketing and what it takes to be a successful sports brand, students were left feeling inspired to create their own legacies by using all the lessons from the session to go out and do great things once they enter industry. Mr Wicksell closed his guest lecture by informing students of one final important lesson: “Business is all about people and relationships and if you remember that, you will know success.”
Lecturer, Ms Sotira Petrou (front row, third from left) and guest lecturer, Mr Ray Wicksell (front row, third from right) and second-year BCom Marketing Management students, group 1.
Second-year BCom Marketing Management students, group 2.