Ad Agencies Need To Learn From Nike About Social Networking--And Just What Customers Want.

We’ve been having a great conversation on why most big ad agencies don’t get it when it comes to social networking (the ad people tell their corporate clients to chase the newest technology—FaceBook, Second Life— rather than stay in touch with their customers).

Ad agency folks might want to check out to see just what a great social networking site is all about. Nike joined with Apple to create a running shoe that was iPod friendly—an electronic sensor slips into the sole of the $100 Nike Air Zoom Moire shoe. It permits runners to listen to music while running. And it does more. You can log your distance, pace and calories on your iPod screen.

More important, Nike created a site where runners can go and challenge one another. They can map out courses, listen to coaching podcasts, mix music for runs, exchange advice. Just look at the site.

The key is to build a wide community space about something important to people and give them the tools to communicate and create their own stuff. Sure, have your product/service/ whatever there for people to see and perhaps choose but don’t “sell” them. You can’t hard sell consumers any more. You must now establish a relationship with people, partner with them, co-create with them. Nike+ does all that. And the site looks great too.

Nike recently moved its Nike running and Nike+ ad business from long-time Portland ad agency Wieden & Kennedy to Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami. So….