Oct 18, 2011

Rethinking Strategy (Return of the Quack)

It is no secret that I love my Oregon Ducks.  Our family is not from Oregon, and when I left the university setting to start a firm in 2004, we realized that our family needed a “home team”.  For over 15 years, we simply cheered for who I happened to serve at the time.  So, we adopted the Ducks – and it turns out that I have learned alot from them.
Most people know that Nike, and specifically Phil Knight, have played an extraordinary role in shaping the University of Oregon athletic program.  But, what they don’t know is how their strategy has been different than anyone else in college athletics.  The University of Oregon athletic program – with Nike head Phil Knight guiding the way – successfully predicted that “marketing attention deficit” – getting people’s attention – would be the hardest trick in the new information age.  So, Phil Knight and Oregon challenged the predominant thinking about athletics:  “if you win, they will come, and you will get attention.”  Instead, he and his cronies realized that attention was really the winning indredient.  In fact, Nike and Oregon set in place a different strategy:  “if you get attention, people will watch and athletes will come, and you will win.”  That is why we see the eye-popping uniforms and the outrageous ad campaigns in urban centers.  All from a university that played host to the fiming of Animal House in a city of 100,000 people and a state of 3.5 million people.  
I share this concept because I believe it has great utility for educators, marketers, and planners alike.  Is it possible to shift and rethink strategy, challenging the prevailing concepts and ideas, and do something really different?  Sure it is.  Oregon is simply a good case study.
I am guessing that Nike had a little to do with the video above that went viral last year.  Led by student rap group Supwichugirl, this is a great example of viral marketing.
Go Ducks!