Nike RE2PECT: The Power of Ritual

I'm a huge sucker for well crafted, emotive advertising. When a brand creates powerful stories through their communications, they not only give themselves a better chance of engaging their audience, they have a much better chance of driving changes in behaviour.

Nike (via W+K) have just released a new star studded campaign 'RE2PECT'. The ad is a beautifully shot and scored celebration of the career of Derek Jeter as he moves towards retirement.

Beyond the aesthetics, the ad leverages the powerful marketing tactic of ritual.

As outlined by Douglas Van Praet in his book 'Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing':

"Rituals are some of the most powerful ways to brand because they often involve multiple sensory experiences and repetitive acts, driving information into the mind." 

What is going on here is the firing of what are called Mirror neurons. This is essentially the "monkey see, monkey do" idea - the simple act of seeing someone perform an action can activate the same mirror response in our brain, allowing us to share this experience even if we are not physically doing it ourselves.

This behaviour has evolved from our tribal past. We all crave identity and acceptance in a wider social group, therefore imitation of others is the foundation of the enablement of the cultural transmission of ideas and experiences. 

The hat tip is a common ritual we as humans employ to show respect. In baseball it is very common for the players to tip their hats to each other to show readiness. With the introduction of the hat tip in the ad from aspirational celebrities and the wider public from all walks of life, Nike are creating a sense of tribal acceptance around their brand through the use of a simple gesture.

Check out the ad below:

What sort of rituals are present with your brand? How can you leverage these in your communications? If none exist, what sort of rituals can you create?