Today, as both my regular readers know, the Beloved Spartans of Michigan State are taking on the Wolverines of Michigan. The Spartans are debuting their new Nike Pro-Combat uniforms. I've noticed the uniforms have some of the same qualities we look for in marketing ideas. Two examples:
1. What Assets Are You Using/Creating?
What's ownably yours? A character? A look? A voice or tone? An outlook on life? Are you creating a phrase, or a language, or a unique way to say something ordinary? Does this campaign or idea give you an asset you can use next year, and the year after that? Here's one way to measure it: Could someone parody your idea? If so, would people recognize it as yours? If not, it probably needs more work.
For Michigan State, Nike has inscribed onto the uniforms the ancient Greek phrase "Molon Labe" which means, "Come and take them." As you may recall, King Leonidas used this phrase in response to the Persian army's demand that the Spartans surrender. It seems like a small element, but it's the one element that's already been used (and mocked) in conversations about the uniforms. I'm guessing it will be repeated by the announcers at today's game as well.
2. How Will People Participate?
Are you giving people the opportunity to do something? Participation could be small ("Click here") or big ("Let's come together, march to DC, and burn down the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture*"). Audiences don't expect to be passive spectators anymore, which is wonderful. How is your idea taking advantage of this?
For the Spartan uniform (and other schools as well), Nike has created a glove design that only works when hands are held together. It basically turned a piece of clothing into a performance prop. Looking at audience shots of Michigan State fans, it's already proven to be a smart call.
* This is just an example, not an order.