Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Early December 2019, Nike announced the launch of a new pair of sneakers. This is of course not the first this happens. Unless you are a sneaker head who always jumps for joy with every new launch, this news does not seem exceptional. But this time there is something to be extra enthusiastic about. The new Nike sneaker is specifically made for healthcare providers. Adapted to the specific circumstances in a hospital, and the many kilometers that caregivers travel every day, it is launched as "the shoe for daily heroes". What makes this shoe even more unique is that all revenues go back to the Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, one of the best pediatric hospitals in the United States and perhaps even in the world.
However, what may seem at first sight as a typical charity effort from the world's biggest sports brand is much more than that. Nike has understood very well that people, in a world full of "fake news", are very careful with endorsing so-called one-off charity by commercial companies. Companies that stand for authentic values in which people can recognize themselves, on the other hand, succeed in turning their customers into real fans. Morever, today people want to become the best version of themselves. More than ever, each of us has the aspiration to be(come) a good person: We want to do good for the planet by living a little more sustainably. We wish to contribute to our society. And we strive to live healthily and happily. But we cannot do this alone. Therefore, we expect companies and brands to help us with this, to make us feel good.
This initiative from Nike is therefore not a one-day fly where people just want to get in the press to brush up their own image. In fact, it is an initiative that already started 16 years ago when a Nike director joined the Board of the Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Touched by both the suffering and the strength of the young patients, he wanted to mean something more to the hospital. It was his own son who came up with the idea of having the pediatric patients of the Doernbecher hospital design Nike shoes themselves. The - then mainly local - sale of those children's shoes allowed them to raise funds for the care, education and materials within the hospital. Since 2004, this campaign has raised 27 million dollars for the hospital. But what was originally intended purely as a fundraising campaign for the hospital became much more than that. Designing the shoes themselves turned out to be a form of therapy for the children. It caused a positive change in the patients. Children were encouraged to be creative and use their imagination. Pleasure was brought in an environment that is mainly known for pain, sadness and suffering. A child with blood cancer designed a red shoe with the logo of his own bracelet, which he got from his parents. Another child was inspired by what she wanted to achieve after the fight against her illness. Another child was inspired by his uncle who is a superhero to him as a soldier in the army. Also this specific new shoe for the caregiver has been styled by these children patients.
In 2015 Adidas made some 50 shoes from waste from the ocean. They were only sold to people who gave up "single-use plastic" from their lives on Instagram. What was a one-off awareness campaign at the time has today become a sale of 11 million pairs of shoes made from ocean waste. By 2021 Adidas wants to be able to sell 100% recyclable shoes itself.
Just as Adidas helps people "have an impact" on nature, so with this shoe, Nike wants to give people the feeling that they can have an impact on children's health. It makes you happy when you choose a brand that has the same authentic values as you. Nike does not sell their shoes here simply by talking about the characteristics of the product, but especially by what this shoe teaches: By buying these shoes you contribute to both medical research of serious illnesses in children and to the training of medical professionals. By then making a shoe for caregivers themselves, Nike is just addressing the group that is often closest to pediatric patients. But I certainly do not expect only care providers to show interest in these "shoes for everyday heroes". Don't we all want to feel good by wearing shoes designed by children patients, and the benefits of which benefit the health of other children?
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Christophe Jauquet is a health marketing expert who inspires consumer businesses and healthcare organisations around the world. With his experience at the intersection of healthcare, marketing and technology, he guides companies and brands to remain relevant in the light of this Healthusiasm trend.