Nike hands media duties to PMG, IPG’s Initiative amid digital shift

    • Nike has selected PMG and Initiative to handle its media business, the company said in an emailed statement. The brand kicked off the review process — the most substantial for its media account in a decade — in December.
    • PMG, an independent shop based out of Fort Worth, Texas, will serve as the athletic apparel marketer’s integrated media agency of record in North America and a partner on global digital capabilities, per an announcement. Nike will leverage the firm’s Alli marketing technology platform for media operations.
    • Initiative, an agency under Interpublic Group of Companies, is taking over global integrated media duties following previous work with Converse. Nike is in the midst of wresting greater control over its sales channels and making bigger pushes into areas like data-driven personalization.

    Nike’s media agency switch-up has been closely watched, and not just because the company owns some of the most iconic and valuable consumer brands. The move arrives at a transitional point for the marketer, with Nike placing greater emphasis on its direct-to-consumer (DTC) operations while cutting back on wholesaler relationships.

    Nike’s media account is estimated to be worth $1 billion, per media reports, and many of the major ad-holding groups vied for the business. Consultancy R3 helped oversee the pitch process.

    “We have concluded our review of agency partners who provide paid media strategy and execution (planning and buying) for brand advertising and performance marketing,” Nike said in an emailed statement. “This is part of our standard operating procedures to ensure Nike continues to have the best-in-class paid media agency partners around the globe.”

    Nike’s owned mobile properties include the core Nike commerce app, a SNKRS app targeted at sneaker collectors and the Nike Training Club app for fitness planning. Those have been instrumental in supporting digital revenue growth in recent quarters amid a broader consumer shift to e-commerce. Nike has also started experimenting more with applications of data for personalization on the Nike app, with plans to grow those initiatives throughout the year.

    “We have started testing audience segmentation in North America with real-time data and personalized journeys on the Nike App, with plans for further expansion in the coming months,” Nike CFO Matt Friend said on a recent analyst call.

    Its pick of new media agencies carries a similarly tech-oriented focus. PMG operates the Alli martech platform, which offers creative insights informed by artificial intelligence, automated media management and other perks. Old Navy and Best Western are among some of the marketers that have used the data-minded solution.

    Nike’s media duties in North America were previously handled by Wieden + Kennedy. The agency remains the company’s creative agency of record. It may also retain some of the brand’s media business in the region, Ad Age reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. WPP’s Mindshare was previously in charge of much of Nike’s global media duties.


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