Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

It was sort of sad, really—the bungled attempts the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made to ensure their select sponsors received the bulk of the spotlight during the London games. The athletes were forced into a two-week blackout period, restricting them from any mention of unofficial sponsors. And unofficial sponsors were in no way allowed to benefit from Olympic-themed messaging.

For the most part, I think the IOC’s plan worked. But some creative athletes and companies found a way around the system.

Nike was one that opted against paying the big bucks for exclusive sponsorship. It found another way to celebrate London though. It launched a new campaign titled “Find Your Greatness” that featured everyday athletes from other London towns located around the world.


Clever concept, and even more clever in terms of breaking through the IOC’s advertising blackout.

Nike explains the campaign rationale:

It is not just the championship athlete or record breaker that aspires to push their limits. It is also the everyday athlete who strives to excel on their own terms, to set and realize personal goals and achieve their own defining moment of greatness.

That’s the insight behind Nike’s ‘Find Your Greatness’ campaign, a powerful message to inspire anyone who wants to achieve their own moment of greatness in sport, launched just as the world focuses on the best of the best.

I appreciate the campaign’s premise. Only a select few will ever be talented enough to earn a spot on a U.S. Olympic team, but that doesn’t mean greatness is lost for the rest of us common folk. I include myself in this grouping, because my running exploits are pitiful compared to the likes of elite runners. However, the goals I set are difficult for me and take plenty of mental and physical effort to achieve. My level of greatness is not on the same scale as these athletes, but the pursuit is for the same goal: to work toward something greater.

In one parable Jesus told, three servants were given differing monetary amounts to manage and invest. Each one was to do what he could with what he was given. Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign is a play off of that truth: We are to be faithful with what we have and do the best we can with what we’ve been given. Like those three servants, our efforts will be measured separately. And that gives us a wide-open space in which to live and move and dream and try—without worrying about what everyone else is doing.

It also sounds like a message the IOC could benefit from for the next games.