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Nike's 'Katalyst' Urges Creative Sustenance

NEW YORK — Kevin Carroll, a man who invented his own title at Nike, reminded direct marketers yesterday to replenish their creative juices and not to be afraid of dreaming big.

To be creative, marketers must give up their adult inhibitions and think like a child, said Carroll, who as “Katalyst” at Nike is responsible for nurturing the footwear company's creative spirit.

“You've got to get to that place where ideas would be,” Carroll said, giving the keynote speech at the DMD New York Conference & Expo. “Possibilities dwell there.”

Creative marketers are aware that they can use up their imaginations and be stuck without fresh ideas at crucial deadlines, Carroll said. To battle the burn out, he suggested keeping creative “Gatorade” — inspirational items and outlets for creativity — close at hand. For example, Carroll keeps his cello in his office and schedules blocks of time that he plans to spend playing like he schedules meetings.

Carroll told the story of how Nike launched a television advertising campaign centered on a man chasing people around a city block and into a subway station in a game of tag. To prepare the company mentally for the campaign, Carroll had 4,000 Nike employees, executives included, play tag for three hours at the company's office.

“If we can't do that in here, we can't put that out there,” he said.

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