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How Kiip re-teaches us the lessons behind Nike's success

The startup Kiip offers a relatively simple but radical step forward in mobile advertising: why not attach brand interactions to moments of achievement/greatness where we feel elated—namely during video gameplay?

I met Brian Wong about a year ago, he was 18 at the time. Today, at the ripe age of 19, he's launching a company that represents a true innovation in mobile marketing. This article is going to be about this new company, Kiip (pronounced "keep"), and how they reminded me of a form of marketing used by Nike to turn prospects into ravenous advocates.

Brian's company offers an idea that's a radical step forward in mobile advertising, but relatively simple at it's core: why not attach brand interactions to moments of achievement/greatness where we feel elated?

Hardcore gamers pass levels, earn high scores, and beat bosses on a daily frequency. Ask any angry birds, doodlejump, or brickbreaker maniac -- and you'll understand the elation that gamers spend millions of hours chasing every day [1], but each of these little triumphs are celebrated primarily by only the user and their console; perhaps whispered about on a leaderboard or shared with Twitter. 

Kiip allows brands to celebrate the achievements of a gamer by offering them a reward when they achieve something notable in-game (beating a level, unlocking a badge, etc.). The brand gets to tie itself to a happy moment and the gamer gets something commemorating/celebrating their accomplishment. Do you see the brilliance in this?

Kiip is more than a mobile marketing company, it's a company that celebrates a niche consumer: "The Gamer."

On a vacation this weekend to attend the e.g. conference, I leafed through the first chapter or two of Just Do It, a book about Nike's corporate history and culture. The book rightfully praised Phil Knight's ability to see past the Nike products, attaching them instead to much more meaningful superstars of sport as tools that empower the greatest athletes.

Nike has built an empire out of a commodity business, and they've done it by turning everything the company does into a celebration of athletics. If you ever have the good fortune of visiting the Nike Campus in Portland, you'll quickly understand that everyone you meet is an athlete, and someone that loves athletics. At it's core, everything Nike does, including designing new products, celebrates athletes and athletics with a religious fervor -- and because of that, millions of people want to spend their money on Nike shoes.

And while I think Kiip's idea is great, I'm more excited that they seem to be following this same vision -- based on my conversations with Brian, and the public stances his company has taken already [2], I believe everything they do will be done to protect, elevate, and celebrate gamers. Because of these decisions, I believe the gamers will be delighted at what Kiip provides. 

So if you're in marketing, keep an eye on Kiip -- I think they are doing something special. More importantly, think about your prospects -- are there a group of people that you can advocate for, celebrate, and turn into your biggest fans?

[*] Before you ask, I have no financial interest in Kiip, and I don't know Brian well enough to have any reason to lavish him with praise other than the fact that I think he's earned it. 

[1] Angry Birds alone generates 200 million minutes of daily game play.

[2] These include stances that almost no advertising platform would take, for example: never using an email address for follow-on marketing and not allowing the advertiser to get the user's email address. Kiip has been similarly harsh on developers, limiting the amount of placements they can put in game and automating variable rewards structures. It seems clear that Kiip is defaulting to advocating for the gamer's interests when it comes in conflict with a brand or developer's desire.

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