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Nike Acquires NFL Star Russell Wilson’s Startup, TraceMe

October 30, 2019 Jennifer Chang

Russell Wilson has worn Nike cleats since 2016, after landing a sponsorship deal with the U.S. sportswear giant, but the Seattle Seahawk quarterback’s associations with the iconic “Swoosh” now goes beyond his footwear choices. The NFL star’s startup TraceMe was acquired by Nike this month.

TraceMe Strives To Bridge The Gap Between Celebrities And Their Most Passionate Followers

Founded in 2017, TraceMe began as an app that aimed to connect athletes and celebrities with their fans through exclusive behind-the-scenes content. Wilson came up with the idea for TraceMe after interacting with countless fans, but the lightbulb really went off after his weekly visits to the Seattle Children’s Hospital where he met with kids who often asked about Seahawks games. “I wanted to take these kids with me,” said Wilson. “I want to take them on this journey and joyride with me, through the ups and downs, and deliver amazing high-level content, but also raw content — something you can relate to. That’s where it clicked for me.”

Nike Grabs An Opportunity With TraceMe

In 2017, its first year of launching, TraceMe was valued at $60 million with the backing of investors including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, YouTube Founder Chad Hurley and Alibaba Co-Founder Joe Tsai. In 2018, TraceMe shifted focus to a new idea called Tally, a platform that enables sports teams, broadcasters and fans to engage in sports events by predicting plays, stats and scores. Interested in the original TraceMe platform, Nike officially acquired TraceMe this month to supplement Nike’s content strategy on Nike-owned platforms. Wilson showcased his acquisition excitement on Twitter as he tweeted Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It.” Although Nike has confirmed the purchase, it is still unclear what will happen to Tally, or exactly how Nike plans to use TraceMe.

Nike’s Push Toward Technology

While the “Swoosh” may be best known for its footwear and apparel, Nike is making a push towards digital, investing heavily in tech and digital initiatives. In April, Nike sought to trademark two terms pertaining to tech: the word “footwear” to use in reference to its “smart” sneakers, and the word “cryptokicks,” to be used for a Nike cryptocurrency. Last month, the company’s shares hit an all-time high, in part due to their stronger digital approach. Nike’s digital business was up 42% in the most recent quarter, driven by mobile experiences, as Nike saw overall revenue increase by 7%. “While products are usually the first to grab the attention of our consumers, we deepen those relationships through the power of digital,” said Nike CEO Mark Parker. Nike’s dominance in sports apparel, along with its strategic digital transformation including its most recent TraceMe acquisition, can help extend its competitive advantage by breaking down boundaries and connecting with consumers on a more personal level.

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About the Author

Jennifer Chang

After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications from the University of Delaware, Jennifer Chang embraced the world of all things media and digital marketing. Beginning with an internship at McCann Health New Jersey, Jennifer analyzed data and statistics for clients’ websites, researched competitors and conducted market research. Finding a natural fit in Digital Media Solutions (DMS), Jennifer joined the team as a Marketing Strategist, where she uses her high motivation and keen eye for detail to provide support on division-specific marketing campaigns and various advertising lead generation initiatives. She is also a valuable contributor – both writing and editing – for DMS Insights, and enjoys working alongside a team of like-minded individuals.

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