May 8, 2017

It was the Kipchoge show. The commentators blathered endlessly about Nike science, but that all went out the window the minute the camera focused on Kipchoge. Nike’s gimmickry did little for the other two unfortunates, which was driven home like a knife with every velvet step Kipchoge took. Flying on after 30K, faster than any human had ever run, it was increasingly clear that this part, going over the wall where the strain on mind and body must have been excruciating, this was about one extraordinary athlete. The shoes, all that, had fallen away, useless, silly. What was happening was not Nike-made, and had very little retail potential. It cannot be reproduced on others. Though no doubt unintended, Nike produced a two-hour opus by Kipchoge, on Kipchoge.

I like this article, mostly. But man, there is immense retail potential in everything on display there. If you don't think tons of "I need to break X:XX:XX" marathoners will drop $250 for those shoes... well, I'd say I have something to sell you, but sadly, I don't. In any case, it's not gear vs narrative. Generating "good feelings" among potential customers has value, beyond "these shoes will make you faster." In any other sport, would highlighting the greatness of a sponsored athlete, to near universal acclaim, be considered bad for the brand?

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