Nike’s England Kit Colour Controversy Targets Youth


‘New Blood, New Skin’, the Nike campaign based around the new England kit for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, is an attempt to engage with a more youthful and urban target.


Launched in August, a month before the competition kicks off, the initiative aims to consolidate Nike’s position in the rugby space and leverage excitement around a more youthful and dynamic England team.


Reflecting its relative ‘newcomer’ status in the rugby world, Nike is introducing a rebellious, deliberately antagonistic black England away kit to drum up controversy as England (who traditionally play in all white) compete in and against New Zealand’s famous All Blacks.


The campaign roll out is being staggering through the month with a launch in early August building up to the main promotional work appearing in the days before England leave for New Zealand.


In tandem with Wieden + Kennedy and the RFU, Nike has chosen a combative, street-smart tone of voice laced with energy and attitude,


The launch included long copy manifesto style advertorials in the press – written in response to the furore over the black kit. These run alongside simple, bold print ads with short copy such as “This September. A new challenge. Shoulders unburdened. The pitch. A blank canvas. Class of 2011. United as one. Injected with New Blood. Wearing New Skin”.


This was accompanied by a launch film released online and the campaign also saw Nike fir out Twickenham Stadium (and nearby retail outlets) with kit and campaign related in-store branding and collateral.


Additional campaign elements are scheduled for later in August around the time of the team’s departure for New Zealand. This culminated in a giant outdoor billboard at Heathrow designed to be one of the last things the England team see before flying off to the tournament.


To extend the kit launch, Nike also released a matching all black AM1 HYP show with ‘New Blood’ on the tongue. The shoe debuted at Niketown with an event that featured England rugby stars of the future such as Owen Farrell and Tom Varndell and DJ VIS. The event included a charity auction of a pair of limited edition black shoes and a custom made black Dr Dre headphones.


A further element of the launch saw NikeID team up with London’s Ink Lounge to develop tattoos inspired by a blend of the new England rugby player and New Zealand Maori designs. This included live tattooing and a design demonstration.





With this kind of confrontational tone of voice, Nike’s partner England will have to live up to the message – youthful, combative and dynamic.


Problem is, that doesn’t sound like the English rugby team that we know.







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