I hate to say it, but I am every marketeer’s wet dream. Nothing I’m particularly proud of – it’s just the way it is. Not only do I tick most boxes of virtually every high-end consumer brand’s communication target, I’m also a complete sucker for blatantly obvious marketing ploys. I’ll demonstrate this with a small example. Last weekend I was in London where across the street from my hotel the cunning folks at Nike had put up a pop-up store. In it, they sold the Nike+ FuelBand. For those of you living on the moon for the past months, the Nike+ FuelBand is Nike’s latest must-have activity monitoring gadget. It registers the number of steps you take, uses that information to dubiously calculate the number of calories you burn and then translates those figures into so-called Fuel points. A universal points system reminiscent of Swatch’ failed attempt to introduce a new time standard back in 1998. Is it accurate? Hardly. Do I need such a device? Not at all. Does it come with shiny LED lights and is it therefore imperative I have one? Absolutely.
Even if the FuelBand hadn’t looked like something Spock would use to communicate with Kirk, the Nike store clerk did a very effective job in ‘selling’ me this £ 150 plastic bracelet. That’s because he uttered the following magic words: ‘the FuelBand is sold out in New York and we’re the only store in the world that is allowed to sell a limited number each day’. Sold out. Only store. In the world. He couldn’t have been more persuasive had he told me it came with a complementary Candice Swanepoel clone. And so I bought one without hesitation and have been walking around like the cat that got the cream eversince.
Nevertheless, the FuelBand has some serious limitations. Because it’s on your wrist, it doesn’t register cycling. Living in Amsterdam, where you spend half your waking life cycling into blustery headwinds burning off truckloads of calories, this is a little disappointing. Also, it isn’t waterproof. On the Nike+ website, Nike tries to gloss over this fact by saying it’s okay to dance in the rain with it, but you shouldn’t go swimming with your FuelBand. I windsurf, which burns off more calories than speed climbing Everest, but exactly how much more I will never know. But I could tell you how much energy it takes to do the Lambada in drizzle. Should I ever be inclined to find out.
Luckily for Nike, the world is filled with people like me and therefore the FuelBand will probably be a massive hit when it becomes more widely available. Just remember who got tricked into buying it first.