This is part of a series highlighting notable entrants in our 2012 Innovation By Design Awards–Ed.
Sports sponsorships are nothing new, and the Olympics just make it all bigger. Though it’s a bit oxymoronic watching hard-bodied Olympians down Big Macs and large Cokes during commercial breaks, we’ve come to expect the countless logos and oddball endorsements as part of the games. But it’s rare that they’re particularly clever.
This year, as bronze, silver, and gold medalists take the podium, many will be wearing Nike’s 21st C. Windrunner V. At first glance, you may see it as any other piece of athletic-apparel placement (which it is), but that will change as soon as the first photographer takes a shot.
You see, the Windrunner V is based on Nike’s Vapor Flash jacket, which has been constructed to create 360 degrees of reflection (it’s basically polyester coated in a laminate face that can amplify ambient light by 400% across its entire surface–the jacket is one giant reflector). For joggers, that means better visibility at night. But for London’s medal winners, it means that those wearing Nike apparel (including the United States, Brazil, Kenya, and Estonia) will literally glow brighter than their competitors–reflecting more light with every flash photo taken–in spite of how they place. Nike has brilliantly repurposed an existing design to steal the podium’s thunder.
I’m trying to imagine an equivalent scenario. Maybe if Michael Phelps took the final bite of an Italian BMT footlong, just before diving into the pool to dominate the 200-meter butterfly. And then upon exiting the water, his oregano-infused breath was so attractive to reporters, they insisted on second and third interviews. And he promises to make time, just as soon as he finishes another delicious sub.MW