Nike’s ‘Rise As One’ March Madness Activation

As March Madness 2012 approaches, Nike has launched a new campaign revolving around the NCAA basketball tournament called ‘Rise As One’.


This is an integrated initiative spanning multiple platforms, but at its heart the apparel maker has constructed an innovative social media centre that aims to amplify college basketball pride.


To reflect the passion and pride of US college basketball fans around the annual NCAA college competition, Nike and R/GA is using its own social media response unit to report and respond in real time.


The brand’s ‘Rise As One’ Social Response Team features a combined team of writers, illustrators and animators who not only are passionate about March Madness, but are also creating content around it too.


A set of influential and informed bloggers replying to tweets using the #RiseAsOne hashtag. They worked in tandem with a group of illustrators creating limited edition college-based imagery and personalised avatars for tweeters. The most vocal fans on social media were rewarded with hand-drawn portraits to use as profile photos, which were then incorporated into a congratulatory ad created by the brand for championship winners Kentucky.


As Twitter traffic spiked around a team, the Social Response Lab changed the backgrounds on Nike Basketball’s Facebook page, along with backgrounds and images on their owned media sites, to reflect that.


The campaign garnered 502,000,000 impressions, according to R/GA, and 64,630 click throughs to download content.


Away from the digital side of the campaign, as the tournament kicked off Nike put special focus on six of the schools contending for the national title – Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Syracuse, UConn, and Florida – by creating a set of posters inspired by blockbuster movies with the campaign tagline ‘Rise As One’.


An artist was commissioned for each poser and their imagery was then collated into a March madness 2012 Nike brand book. For each school, a limited edition collection of footwear and apparel is also available at select Nike Sportswear retailers.


In addition, a set of Rise As One webfilms (one for each school) were also produced by Nike to push the campaign and the limited edition 2012 apparel range.


See the Kentucky Wildcats online film here:



The college Rise As One campaign dovetails with Nike’s wider ‘Rise’ basketball marketing initiative which also saw a new ‘Rise’ TVC from lead Nike basketball ambassador LeBron James launch during March Madness.





Like Gatorade’s original ‘Mission Control’ social media centre for its NFL campaign, this is another example of a US sports sponsor placing social media at the heart of its activation and creating original content.


Driven by Nike’s social response lab, this campaign creates as-live college basketball related content – from written analysis to personalised art – in order to drive on-trend engagement and respond in real time.


Perhaps even more important is the fact that Nike is creating relevant rewards for brand engaged, content-creating and content-sharing fans.




Nike Basketball



NCAA Final Four




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