Nike quietly debuts mobile app for soccer fans
Nike has launched a mobile application leveraging its sponsorship of Italian soccer and further ingratiating the sportswear giant with the game's fans.
Called Nike Goal, the iPhone application is an extension of the company's Nikefootball.com site. The app targets Italians who love soccer as well as Nike as a brand.
"The purpose of the application is to provide a free service to Italian football [soccer] fans who want to stay connected to the game and the teams and players they support," said Martina Zavagno, digital marketing and ecommerce manager at Nike Italy.
Working with Italian agency H-Art, Nike introduced Nike Goal in mid-December with the Italian Serie A.
Available in Italian and English, the app will soon cover the European Football Championships in the early part of this year.
The iPhone scores
Nike Goal offers live scores from the Italian Serie A. The scores are updated automatically during the matches.
So, if a Nike player scores, a special feature appears: Consumers see the photo of that player and the boot he wears, along with a video testimonial of that piece of footwear.
In addition, the application features a ranking of the Nike boots which scored the most goals.
Also, a new section offers the latest information about Nike players, boots, campaigns and initiatives related to soccer.
"We decided to kickoff with a soft launch to test the application and start getting consumers' feedback," Ms. Zavagno said.
"For us at Nike, connecting with our consumers by providing them great, innovative products and services is a must," Ms. Zavagno said. "Nike Goal has been launched with this in mind.
"Nike's consumers expect us always to be ahead of the game," she said. "Nike Goal is our kickoff of the game on the iPhone platform. The application right now provides just basic services, but we see it as a starting point.
"We have a lot of ideas in mind, but we want to grow gradually, adding features and services our consumers want to see on the application."
Apple only recently launched the iPhone in Italy, a soccer-mad country. For Nike, the timing could not be more perfect for its mobile debut in Italy.
"We knew the buzz was about to explode around it," Ms. Zavagno said. "Being innovative is in Nike's DNA, so we knew we had to create something cool and useful to reach our consumers on the new device.
"Of course, this is not the only reason," she said. "We feel the iPhone has incredible characteristics that make it an incredible tool to work with, so in the beginning we decided to focus only on its platform."
The application was not introduced with any fanfare. The soft launch ensures that the application is stable and free of bugs.
"It's also very important for us to get consumers' feedback, because Nike Goal can grow only with the help of the end-users," Ms. Zavagno said.
"I can't say this is an open source project, because the wording won't be correct, but we want to develop Nike Goal step by step, adding the features and services that consumers find interesting and useful, not only the functionalities we as marketers think might be good," she said.
That said, Nike is inviting consumer feedback on Nike Goal at http://nikegoaliphone.com/en/.
"The iPhone offers us incredible possibilities for further development," Ms. Zavagno said.
"We are currently looking at adding more European Championships, more stats on the Italian Serie A matches and possibly some location-based services to take full advantage of the iPhone uniqueness," she said.