Nike’s Coin Flip Photo Isn’t Real. It Is Genius.

Moments before kickoff of Monday night’s National Championship game, Nike tweeted out a coin flip photo that appeared to perfectly capture the coin mid-air with both Nike endorsed schools, Oregon and Ohio State captains present for the toss.  The image, which had Nike’s Swoosh logo in the top right corner, went viral gaining nearly 3,700 retweets which could easily account for millions of impressions and eyeballs.

Shortly after the image went up, quite a few off-twitter conversations happened between friends in the ad world.  Quickly sliding into DMs was talk between people in the ad world of whether the image was the best pre-game photo in coin toss history or if this was yet another amazing campaign that Nike pulled off with no one noticing.  The evidence is beginning to point to the latter.

First of all, as pointed out by Rodger Sherman of SB Nation, the players in the photo are not the captains  that Ohio State and Oregon sent onto the field for the toss.  The Ducks were represented by # 7, 8, 44, and 55.  The photo shows three players wearing # 6, 20-something, and 80-something.

Overhead photo of coin toss from stadium camera

Secondly, Timothy Burke of Deadspin confirmed what I thought to be the case about student-athletes being used in ads.  Per NCAA rules, current college players cannot be used in any form of commercial ads.  (They can of course play for a school while earning it millions in revenue, but not get to break bread at the table. Let’s tackle that another time.)

Also take note that none of the players on the Ohio State side have helmet stickers and all players are wearing visors.

Looking at the evidence that is before us in plain sight, it is looking like Nike pulled off one of the greatest ads in social media history.

Nike does what Nike does best.  They infuse their brand into the conversation during cultural moments in sports and life.  In this instance, their photo was shared and talked about by scores of people who were engaged in the experience of watching the National Championship.  During that moment of extreme engagement and undivided attention, Nike was on the top of many minds and you can only imagine tomorrow just how many more will be talking about this epic moment in sport advertising history that they pulled off.

There is a long list of great ad campaigns in sports and the business surrounding it, but time and time again, Nike seems to Just Do It.

Heads-up Thanks: Mashable