FROM THE SOLE: NIKE’S SAFARI GAMBLE

Nike have always been known in the Sports industry for their sheer creativity when it comes to marketing.

Going from success to success, campaigns for the Mercurial Vapor, T90 Laser and CTR360 have seen Nike do in 15-20 years what has taken most others five decades to achieve; and are now one of the most dominant forces in the game.

Looking back to the launch of their flagship football boots, the Mercurial Vapor Superfly II, you couldn’t go on a single sports website without being greeted with a Violet Pop/Max Orange advert for the latest lightweight boot.

From major international news outlets to humble niche sites like ours, people were talking about Nike launching their latest football boots by taking over Battersea Power Station and lighting it up with images of the Superfly II – the buzz was huge – in fact, a quick Google reveals there are nearly 600,000 websites that contain the term ‘Nike Superfly II’.

But nothing kills buzz quicker than being usurped by another product. Whilst the Superfly II was announced to much furore in February, it didn’t hit shelves until April. The same month adidas unveiled the adiZero.

Lionel Messi with adidas adiZero football boots

As we all know, the adiZero is finally a direct competitor to the Mercurial Vapor from Nike’s biggest rivals. And whilst adidas had a nice launch and some decent adverts, it was eventually the lower price tag and lower weight that saw the majority of the football boots-buying public view the adiZero as the better cleat.

So, to sum it up – despite all the flash and wonder involved in launching high-end technology like NikeSENSE Studs and a reworked FlyWire upper, people tend to value things like weight, comfort and price when judging football boots.

Which is exactly why the Nike CR Safari was such a huge gamble for the big ‘N’.

Cristiano Ronaldo at the Launch of his Signature Nike Football boots- the CR Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II Safari

On one hand, it’s a stroke of genius; there’s no need to design a new boot as it’s literally just a Superfly II, and it’s essentially just a new colourway so you’re not going to massively peeve off any fans who bought a pair at launch. Most importantly, it also allows Nike to snatch some of that all important ‘Buzz Factor’ ahead of the lucrative holiday season.

All they needed was a wild print and Cristiano Ronaldo’s signature.

And is it working?

Well, here’s some numbers – adidas F50 adiZero currently has 349,000 results on Google, in comparison, typing in Puma v1.10 SL will get you 117,000.

Putting Nike CR Safari into Google will net you 242,000 results – which is an incredible number considering the boot was only announced a week ago!

Nike once again have played the PR game ridiculously well, and whether you hate the speckled football boots or love them – you can’t ignore them, and they’re not even out yet!

Nike Football Boots- Mercurial Vapor Superfly II CR7 Safari

But the big test will come on November 15th, when the Nike CR Safari go on sale – how much of that hype will convert into sold football boots?

We reckon that plenty of people will plump £275/$400US for these outrageous football boots, but it’s going to be nothing in comparison to the amount of Mercurial Glides/Mercurial Victory’s that they’ll sell.

Attaching Ronaldo’s name to these boots are certainly going to make them a kit with the younger crowd of players, but young players tend not to have nearly £300 in their pocket money – so the sub-£100 alternatives could be a real hit for Nike.

As for the Vapor and Superfly level football boots, they could sell well as a really expensive festive gift, but we’re not sure how many pairs will be bought after December has been and gone.

But that’s just what we think – We want your opinion!

Do you think Nike have a winner on their hands with this much build-up?

Tell us in the comments below!


20 Comments

  • There is no doubt that there are a lot of nike die hards and they will actually pay ÂŁ275 to get that thing on their feet! (no offence).
    But when it comes to marketing whether we like it or not Nike it’s superior.
    Still, as good as the marketing is, the price and the new colorways of adizero leave no choice for someone who is actually looking value for money speed boot.

  • @Kurve
    Superfly 3 are the same with SF2, the only difference is that instead of orange studs, they are yellow, more flywire and different instep design.

  • a great point was hilighted in this article : “the sub-ÂŁ100 alternatives could be a real hit for Nike.”

    although for the pros and the die hard football boot entusiasts, the battle is only between the top ranged superfly and the top ranged adizero.

    but most of us seem to ignore the lower priced alternatives whereas thats only thing young footballers get to see when they step into their local sports store.

    so on the topic of the CR Safari Boot, although not alot people may by the ÂŁ275 Superfly or The ÂŁ180 Vapor VI, Nike’s Profit In this campain will probably mainly come from The Glide and Victory range.

  • @BiyiAdetunji I agree its a good point made in the article that the cheaper boots will demonstrate whether its a winner or not. But I can’t help thinking why someone would still pay ÂŁ100 for a take down boot, when for the same money you can get in an adizero…

    Do you get what I’m saying Footy Boots?

  • Nike is the epitome of America’s current character and set of values. They will definately appeal to like-minds around the world with similar tastes. Same people who think CRonaldo is the best player in the world, that his coach Mourino is also any good, and those who think a win is a win regardless of how you obtain it; people who want to “be seen” just for the sake of being seen, those who think that taste, class, and beautiful football can be bought. People who forgot long ago about the quality of the product and just buy the publicity.
    So yeah, Nike have a winner for now but who cares. No real footballer, who battles tooth and nail in the field every weekend cares and Nike is counting on that, because they’re already onto the next blister forming, uncomfortable, money making plastic disposable idea of a shoe.

  • It seems like Nike could use some of this “Safari Spin” to good use with the lower end boots in the Mercurial range. Why not have a ‘Safari Edition” of each level of boot? I’d think that would get many a youngster/financial mortal running into the shops this Xmas season.

    As Woy posted, Nike has stiff competition at the mid-high price points with the Adizero leading the charge.

    FYI Nike, I live only 8hrs away so if you want more great ideas… 🙂

  • Very interesting article, just so happens that I had been discussing this topic with some friends a few nights ago.

    When Nike announced this pair of shoes about a week and a half ago it immediately struck me that this was the missing link persay.

    A few years ago when Ronaldinho was at his prime level, he came out with a signature line (much larger than this one mind you) and it was a big hit, Nike was exploiting their biggest star and colorway after colorway flew out the door because of a simple combination of 10R. It did nike really well and boosted Dinho’s fame.

    Another prime example is Mr. Goldenballs Beckham, who to this day is Adidas main face and his brand stills move quite a bit of product.

    Essentially all that was missing was Ronaldo, having the season of his life and Nike’s NEW face. Although the colorway is a bit on the wild side for my liking, it doesnt do Nike any harm because they market well and the fact that they appear everywhere start to grow on you. Agreed that the lower priced versions will move better thatn the SFII, Nike will still have what they always have in the end, sales.

    Nike have made a gamble that in my opinion they will be succesful, but only time will tell, and no doubt that Nike will rebound if they fail or exploit their success.

    The wonderful world of football 🙂

  • I don’t think the ultimate goal for Nike here is to sell a massive number of Safari SFIIs or its little brothers. The point of the campaign is to keep the company top of mind and maintain the brand’s associations with original designs and star athletes.

    These boots have ‘buzz’ yes, but if Nike really wanted to sell boots in sheer numbers, they’d release a less spotty (pun intended) colourway, something all black or all white perhaps.

    As far as the boot goes, about the only thing it has going design-wise is that it lacks that ugly instep design of the other SFIIs (save the World Cup edition).

  • To me this is just Nike doing what hey do best. Hype. They did this with the Nike Mercurial SL’s. made an incredibly desireable boot that is seen on the feet of super stars and boosting them selves as the elite of football boots. They’re not like Adidas what pride themselves in being a peoples brand, the create huge demand, with little supply causing a frenzy around their produnt and selling the cheaper models becuase people (myself included) will buy these cheaper models just to feel as close to the actual thing as possible. Nike is fantastic at this.

  • Really, without the spots its a really nice colorway imo. On the picture were they are on display in the box you can hardly see the spots and without them the white/orange looks great actually

  • If that cool display box came with the shoes I would definitely get a pair haha.

    Personally I don’t like the spots like most people. Nike why can’t you just come out with some black superfly II’s white a white Nike swoosh? Now those would look better than these soccer shoes!

  • “People tend to value things like weight, comfort and price when judging football boots”. I think that is basically why more and more pros and amateurs are wearing adizero boots. It is a nice try by Nike though.Time will say…

  • To me, not to brag, I have always bought superflys, and I see my friends wearing the miracles or glides because they can’t afford superflys or even vapors. But I agree with most people, a colourway maybe in all white would bring them more business to compete with adizeros. And coming out with only six colourways to compete against adizeros wasn’t a good idea. Instead they should’ve made something with a little more boom that really makes people want to get the boot no matter the price. For example, the all white adizeros, some of my friends intend to buy them in the cheaper version because they look cool. Rather to the new safari vapors, I like them, but not a lot of people do. Therefore the safaris should have been something a bit more appealing

  • To be honest I don’t like these new Nike CR Safari, I’d never play with a pair of football boots that look like cow skin. But like Kyle said Nike played the PR game very well and this boots could turn things around for Nike against the Adizeros.

  • To me I think it’s just a colourway. My gut feel is that sales will tumble. However behind all this is the way Nike operates. If you ask your shoe selling uncle how do the deals go, they say that after the 4th week or so they will cut prices to move the stock. If Nike finds out they are not able to move the stock it will actually cost the shoe selling uncle money. So technically you cannot judge on sales figures for the Safari as it would be the “latest” colourway and all shops will be focused on selling that “latest” model.

  • IMHO never a gamble. nike had won this whole safari thingie.

    it’s a publicity. and there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

    the more websites covers this colorway, the more sport magz put pictures about this boots = the better.

    i don’t think nike even give a damn about how many safaris they would sell. as long as people keep talking about nike, thinks about nike everytime it came to football boots “oh yeah, do you know that outrageous colorway ronaldo just had?? nike is crazy!!” —> again, “nike”.

    releasing one unique colorway = small price to pay for nike to imprint their brand into people’s head.

  • I have had so many boots now that I no longer buy cleats on impulse or simply based on looks. I know what fits me the best and I know what I’m comfortable in. I know that the new laser IIIs fit me better than anything else so that’s what I buy. (unless I can find a pair of hummels haha)

    As for the safaris, I agree with Johnny in that simple colorways look the best. Arshavin’s are easily the best looking ones.

  • wow… like what channo said… who cares about the sales? tis us chatting non-stop about this that is what Nike wants…

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