Nike exists to serve athletes. And they’re continuously looking for new ways to provide value for their members within their own ecosystem. Plus, the past few years have been a lot. Global pandemic. Political polarisation. The office and home merging. The list is long, and living on adrenaline is leading to mass burnout across the globe. Even pro athletes have started to open up about their mental health. Despite the fact this has become a major conversation, people still feel ill-equipped to support their own mental well-being journey.
As part of Nike’s shift to a more holistic approach to sport and movement, the brand started looking beyond a sole focus on performance.
The objective: dimensionalize health through sport and help younger generations understand the benefits of movement to get through today.
To bring value to Nike members on such a vast and personal topic, we needed a new strategic approach to movement, content and engagement through Nike Activity Apps.
Working with scientific research, mental health experts and Nike coaches, we developed a program that emphasised and contextualised the positive impact of mindful movement, highlighting the importance of openly discussing these themes to lift the stigma.
Nike Mind Sets is a movement series designed for how you’re feeling, instead of what you’re achieving, to help destigmatise mental health and provide tools to move for your mind. It represents a significant shift, moving Nike from inspiring people to "Just Do It" to encouraging them to pause and ask themselves "How are you feeling?
“Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
Introducing Nike Mind Sets. A movement series designed for the mind. An uplifting program that focuses on how you feel, not what you achieve, helping Nike Members move in any way that feels good for their mental wellbeing. The series delivers curated and custom movement, expert content, and experiences to help people move for their mind.
With a hyper awareness about the importance of mental wellbeing and athletes at top levels of sports excellence making it part of the conversation, it was an invaluable time for Nike to contribute. Mind Sets started with a focus on burnout as we aimed to address the impact of the pandemic, isolation, remote work, or learning for younger generations. We soon realised that burnout was part of a broader conversation around mental wellbeing. That’s when the question became: How can we use Nike’s platform and membership ecosystem to give insight into how movement can positively impact mental health?
Working in collaboration with Nike, we identified scientific research, collaborated with mental health experts and Nike coaches to define content, experiences and rewards that emphasized the positive impact of movement.
Our breakthrough came in the shape of a simple yet radical shift, moving Nike from inspiring people to "Just Do It" to encouraging them to pause, take stock and ask "How are you feeling?”. Then, we provided a wide range of uniquely developed ways to move for that.
Without positioning movement as the sole solution, we defined a framework for Nike to start a dialogue with its members around an important and complex subject, giving them actionable tools, participating in lifting the stigma around mental health in the world of sport and beyond.
When we’re stressed or burned out, exercising is the last thing we want to do. Yet it’s the very thing that could make us feel better. This platform provided a series of movement options all designed to benefit the mind over the body. From Nike’s first Audio Guided Walk&Run to global TRAINED podcast episodes about burnout to NTC (Nike Training Club) and NRC (Nike Run Club) badges prioritising your mental wellbeing, the program rolled out in November 2021 across Nike’s 300m+ member ecosystem including: Nike app, NRC, NTC, email, .Com, social handles, as well as athlete and influencer channels.
Nike is iconic for its hyper-performance tone, establishing them as a leader in the sports and fitness industry because of it. Yet that very tone is what could alienate an exhausted audience who just doesn’t have it in them right now. The last thing anyone on the brink of exhaustion wants to hear is another “Yesterday You Said Tomorrow” message.
By developing a program which could be the ‘yin’ to Nike’s performance ‘yang’, we were able to keep members engaged when culture is causing burnout across all aspects of their lives, including sport.
For a brand like Nike, famously known for their hyper performance focus and drive for excellence, to come out and open a conversation around mental health amongst their community and their athletes, it was quite a cultural statement in helping destigmatise and normalise doing things for our mental health.
Nike Mind Sets sparked that global conversation around mental well-being and how sport can be a positive solution, not an additional stressor. The Nike community shared how they were feeling throughout the app comments and the program was featured by global press and media coverage. Members moved for their minds through engagement with the educational content and custom movement sessions. But another important impact is the internal shift within Nike. The program has shifted the brands long-term strategies to athlete storytelling and activity apps content - bringing the mental health lens into the plans and rethinking NTC and NRC content to include content curated on feeling, not just goals.
We conceived a programme that delivers value for people with different interests and mindsets, while making it feel cohesive and valuable for most. In the future a more centralised approach could help ensure further impact and consistency. Both on the client side and internally this project was extremely impactful, encouraging some team members to start mindfulness and breathwork instructor training. The highly sensitive and personal nature of the subject matter impacted how we approached this project and others building on our learnings.