Nike#PlayRussian Ambushes Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Nike has fired the first salvo in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic sports brand marketing war with the release of its seasonal, winter sports campaign in support of Russians who ‘embrace winter as their playground’ and challenges the viewer to #playrussian.


Nike, a non-Olympic sponsor who many will see as ambushing official IOC partner adidas, is using this campaign to strategically position itself at the heart of the Russian sporting pulse and this is its first major piece of work as the apparel giant builds towards the Winter Olympic Games in early 2014.


Running under its umbrella, global ‘Just Do It’ marketing strand, this new ‘play Russian’ work feature famous Russian sports stars and winter Olympians and focuses on just what it means and just what it takes to defy the cold with commitment and athleticism.


The dynamic TV spot showcases how Russians use the country’s hard winters to drive them on and push their limits.



The creative spans ice hockey and skating and features big name Russian stars such as hockey player Alexander Ovechkin, snowboarder Denis Leontyev and skater Adelina Sotnikova (alongside non Winter sports stars such as long jumper Darya Klishina, footballer Alexander Kokorin and skateboarder Egor Kaldikov).


These stars will also front additional promotions – including those running across the campaign’s digital hub where consumers can upload their own favourite sporting moments to the site and add the #playrussian hashtag to spread it across social networks.


The wider campaign spans physical, digital and social platforms.


This campaign, Nike first winter campaign for the Russian market, was created with usual agency Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam and aims to show the world that winter doesn’t have to mean staying inside.


This creative is just the start of a wider Nike initiative in Russia through the Games.


Throughout December and January it will front a set of sports events – including running, football, snowboarding and ice hockey – enabling young Russians to show their skills and really #playrussian.


‘Sport can be enjoyed in all elements, and the Russian winter is no exception,’ explains Nike’s brand marketing director in Russia Massimo Giunco


‘In this new campaign, we’re challenging young athletes to show us that they can embrace winter as their playground. We already know they are fearless, but we want to see how they can defy normal and Play Russian. This is their moment to show the world that they can Just Do It like only Russians can.’


Eric Quennoy, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam executive creative director, adds: ‘This is Nike’s first winter campaign for the Russian market, and we really wanted to celebrate and encourage Russians to get out there and embrace sport, no matter the conditions.


‘To turn the icy white of winter into a canvas for action. ‘Play Russian’ is like a rallying cry to stick it to the elements by embracing the Russian spirit. In many ways it’s the ultimate embodiment of ‘Just Do It’.’




Nike is, of course, the master of leveraging major global events and associating with sports properties without actually being na official sponsor or purchasing specific rights.


In the build up to Sochi 2014 we can expect it to follow the strategy it used to ambush London 2012 (see previous case study) and its infamous ‘Find Your Greatness – London’ ad.




Indeed, Nike have been particularly busy ambushing on a global scale this week.


Not only rolling out their first major IOC Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic activity, but it also fired the opening salvo in the FIFA 2014 World Cup marketing war with its launch campaign for the Brazilian team’s new kit (see previous case study).




Nike Campaign Website



Nike Campaign TV Spot YouTube



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