I found this once again a compelling piece by Prof Ben Gilad. He accurately captures the essence of Competitive Intelligence–it is in the air. I share it verbatim as published on his blog on LinkedIn. Enjoy and take note Marie-Luce.

The future of competitive intelligence? It’s in the AIR

A picture is worth a 1000 words. With Bidenomics inflation, a 2000 easily. But sometime, a movie is worth a 1000 pictures. On AMAZON Prime: A whole movie about CI, and not one word on “CI”!

@Clark Barette, CIP™-III, turned me onto a new movie starring Matt Damon called Air (playing on Prime). The movie is about how Nike, then the smallest company in athletic shoes with a fraction of market share compared with Adidas and Converse, signed up Michael Jordan for the now iconic Air Jordan brand. I am not a fan of movies about celebrities. I don’t have heroes and I definitely do not worship influencers and stars. But the movie Air has little to do with Micheal Jordan or basketball. It’s about a competition analyst at Nike 30 years before I founded the program for competition analysts.

Bourne, a.k.a Matt Damon, plays Sonny, a manager hired by Phil Knight, Nike CEO, played by Ben Aflak, for an unspecified role. As Sonny keeps complaining to his boss, an unassuming but bright marketing executive in charge of the small basketball division, played by Jason Batman, he isn’t clear what his role was at Nike. But throughout the movie it is clear his role was exactly what I envision (and teach) the role of a competition analyst should be:

  • Know competitors so well you can predict their moves to a T and,
  • Understand better than competitors how to deal with other High-impact players in your market (in this case, Jordan’s Mom and Jordan’s agent)
  • Develop and pitch a competitive insight that goes against Nike’s culture, Phil Knight’s core assumptions, industry conventions, and product design traditions
    …and at the end, get an 18-year-old who wants a red Mercedes convertible to sign with you against his agent’s advice.

Getting management buy-in

For me the most satisfying aspect was how Sonny Vaccaro “manipulated” Phil Knight to change his mind about the deal with Jordan. In a strategy that mirrors what I just taught my CIP-III students, a competition analyst is using the history of Nike and how the CEO started it (a.k.a representative bias) to persuade the CEO to take the risk of placing Nike’s entire basketball signing budget in one basket.

If you are in competitive intelligence – watch Air. Then arrange a showing at your company’s annual meeting to explain what competition analysts are about.

And naturally, not one word about data, analytics, collection of more data, or AI.

About “Air”: It is a 2023 American biographical sports drama film based on true events about the origin of Air Jordan, the basketball shoeline, of which a Nike employee seeks to strike a business deal with rookie player Michael Jordan.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solverwp- WordPress Theme and Plugin

Scroll to Top