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Volume 20 No. 46
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Nike 6.0 throws the ultimate house party

When Nike pushed into action sports in the early 2000s, many surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders expected the brand to impose its stick-and-ball sensibilities on sports that thrived on individuality. Nike executives tried to upend those expectations by making cool, credible product.

NIKE 6.0

Brand: Nike

Agency: BeCore Promotions

Goal: Create energy and buzz around Nike 6.0 and validate the company’s position in the core action sports community.

Why it worked: “The kids had access to the athletes in a relaxed and informal and fun environment, and it had the sense of permanence. It wasn’t a tent or a party or a barbecue. You could come back every day and not know what to expect. The kids really responded to that.” — Kelly Vaught, chief marketing officer, BeCore Promotions

“Expect the unexpected” became a driving principle for the company, and it brought that principle to life last year when it created one of its biggest, consumer-facing activations: the Motel No Tell in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Nike 6.0 rented a two-story, beachside motel four blocks from the Huntington Beach pier and transformed it into an unparalleled action sports hangout where surfers like Kolohe Andino spent the night, made hamburgers and listened to live music from bands ranging from the Polar Bear Club to Mariachi El Bronx.

Throughout last summer, lines of teens wearing board shorts formed outside a small motel at Huntington Beach near a small white, orange and blue sign that said “Motel No Tell.” They pushed inside, where they could play games in a 1980s-style arcade room, design their own shoes, check out athlete hotel rooms, eat free tacos or watch live music. The motel offered a total of 48 events over two months.

“The action sports community is a tight-knit community,” said Kelly Vaught, chief marketer at BeCore Promotions, the marketing agency that conceptualized and managed the motel. “Nike rolled in as the behemoth company. Could they really establish themselves as authentic? That’s what the hotel did. It was open, inviting and demonstrated the technology behind the products and allowed kids to align their own creativity with the brand.”

Nike won’t be running the motel this summer. It launched a “Just Do It” campaign that features its action sports stars and created a mobile activation unit to support it. But last summer’s motel was one of the more critical steps in the evolution of its Nike 6.0 brand. It allowed the company to show that 6.0 was a real brand, deeply committed not just to the sport side but also the music, art and culture, said Zach Boon, Nike 6.0 North American brand manager.

“We were able to bring 6.0 closer to that world and elevate it,” Boon said.

— Tripp Mickle