The most valuable apparel brand in the world is on a mission to turn sport and play into a lifestyle for kids, and it is focusing on digital games where youth spend a lot of time. Nikeland on Roblox is a virtual world with multiple yards, activities and mini-games to get kids moving – both their digital avatars and physical bodies. The vibrant 3D environment set against the backdrop of Nike’s World Headquarters includes many areas to explore, earn medals and ribbons, compete and
nd build mini-games. As players earn rewards, they can unlock more interactive sports materials to create their own yard and play with other creators. Nikeland ties in with Nike’s larger campaign to encourage young people to play on their own terms. Nike found that ‘Generation Alpha doesn’t connect with the traditional view of sport, its set rules, structure and, often, pressure. Stereotypical, gender-specific products and experiences don’t resonate with youth today. In Nikeland, physical movement can trigger enhanced in-game moves such as long jumps and speed runs, and small incentives during game play keep creators entertained and in the game longer. This creates a more immersive experience. Players can visit a digital showroom to choose different Nike outfits for their avatars and collect sneakers with special powers, giving them an advantage while competing in the mini-games, such as dodgeball, tag and the floor is lava. Nike’s objective is to look at what play means to kids. “Our ultimate goal is to help kids make sport a daily habit for a lifetime, and I think that starts by reframing the discussion so that you don’t ‘do sports,’ you ‘play sports’,” Cal Dowers, global vice president and general manager for Nike Kids, said. Nikeland homes in on a younger generation keen to create, play and interact with friends online. Even more appealing to youth is the ability to build games and worlds. Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite all have creator modes where players have a lot of freedom and resources to design their own games. It’s essentially a no-code version of game design and development similar to websites such as Squarespace, Wix and Shopify. Nike regularly champions making play accessible. Nikeland on Roblox is free to play and creators earn medals and ribbons by competing in the mini-games, exploring and finding hidden surprises and playing in yards of other creators. It’s a space for kids to do what they love within the surroundings of a Nike branded environment. Physical to digital From December, the sports apparel brand will take Nikeland to the next level. When people visit the kids’ floor at Nike’s House of Innovation in New York, they’ll be able to activate a Snapchat lens which brings Nikeland to life. The augmented reality experience overlays many elements of the Roblox game into the space, including avatars, games and Nikeland-inspired hidden surprises. It’s a clever way of encouraging kids to come into the Nike store and connect with the brand in a way they’re familiar with and that interests them. By toning down the elite athlete marketing Nike is known for, it helps kids see the brand differently, approachable. If they’re able to dress their Roblox avatars in Nike and it looks cool, kids are more likely to gravitate towards Nike apparel and ultimately make it part of their lifestyle. Immersive play Integrating immersive experiences such as augmented reality filters, interactive games and apps to track your movement creates an entirely different fitness experience. Nike links these elements together in multiple ways including Nikeland. The episodic YouTube series Playlist by Nike is a fun way to show kids how to get their bodies moving in untraditional ways. Mashups of exercises, zen poses and activities reimagine fitness as we know it. And it engages kids where they are most present – online. Competition still plays a big role in sport and as immersive technology advances, there are more ways to track fitness and personal goals. Sport performance technology company Ghost Pacer recently released a pair of augmented reality glasses, which projects a holographic opponent into the field of view. The figure is designed to run at a similar pace and encourages you to perform at your best. Nike is going to great lengths to ensure its brand is embedded within digital environments. The kids of today are influenced by brands they see in the apps, games and online worlds they frequent. As Cal Dowers said, Nike is “committed to a kids-first mindset, from the products we make to how we communicate to how we act as a resource for parents. The point is to spark the joy of play for and with the next generation”. Traditional advertising and marketing campaigns don’t carry the same weight. Similar to the frustrations kids have with their parents for not being able to work out new social media apps and trends, they’re quick to make comments about brands being too old. Major brands can’t risk being left behind or perceived as irrelevant. Nikeland is just the beginning and Nike is winning a new competition, capturing the attention of Generation Alpha.