Smart moves: Four Inspiring Examples of Marketing BrillianceThe best marketing maneuvers ever conceived mostly came out of necessity rather than brain work  Nevertheless, the will and courage to seize those opportunities are still commendable traits of those who executed the moves, and they will always be remembered as benchmarks for other marketers to emulate genius in their craft.

These 4 remarkable (and arguably classic) examples of sheer marketing brilliance will leave you with the following good advice:

  • Be clever.
  • Do it with a cause.
  • Innovate.
  • Take risks.


The Puma –Pelè Connection In the 60’s to the 70’s, Pelè was the greatest soccer player in the world (he’s semi-Portuguese, so he only uses his first name). During the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, shoe companies Puma and Adidas decided NOT to bid for Pelè’s sponsorship to avoid brand wars and lose a lot of publicity money. The decision would come from Pelè himself (who was playing for Brazil). In the final game against Italy, Pelè ultimately decided to go with Puma, and before the opening kick, he asked the referee for extra time so he could tie his shoelace. The cameras zoomed into him, panned down and that’s when everybody saw that he was wearing Puma shoes (to the dismay of Adidas). It was found out later that it was part of the act and Pelè was actually paid $25,000 to tie his shoes at that exact moment. That clever exposure increased Puma’s sales multifold and made it a household name ever since.


Oakley and the Chilean miners In August 2010, 33 miners were caved-in at an old copper-gold mine in Copiapó, Chile. They survived a record of 69 days trapped underground with limited food and ventilation. A few days before the rescue mission was coming to a success, eye wear company Oakley donated 35 pairs of high-end sunglasses (normally sold at $180) for the miners. Living without sunlight for 2 months they would need those sunglasses to avoid serious damage to their eyes once they get out. As a result, the whole world watched as each surviving miner came out of the hole wearing Oakley shades. Because of their noble service, their sales also skyrocketed into record heights.  


Coca-Cola and the modern-day Santa Clause Before 1930, Santa Claus has always been depicted as a green-clothed elf who looked more like the ones in the Lord of the Rings films. Although there were other versions of him being a real person wearing red, it was only until soda company Coca-Cola introduced a new Santa Claus who was jollier, stouter and was sporting a flowing white beard. The red color also became the standard for him as it went well together to the company’s official color.


Nike and Michael Jordan In the early 80’s, struggling shoe company Nike signed a rookie NBA player, who, despite of his athletic abilities and natural charm, has not achieved anything yet at that point. His name was Michael Jordan. Back then, NBA players were required to wear predominantly white shoes, and because of the vivid red and black colors of his Air Jordan shoes, Michael Jordan was fined $5000 per game for violating the rule. Nike instructed Michael to keep wearing the shoes and later on reimbursed him with his expenses for paying the fine (which were cheaper compared to the sales generated by the brand). Because of the shoes’ unstoppable popularity, NBA eventually decided to allow colored shoes in the league, and Air Jordan went on to become the highest-selling shoe brand in history.

This content originally appeared at Callbox blog.