There's a saying that you should choose your enemies carefully, and if there isn't there jolly well should be. In so many ways, a good enemy can be extremely useful if utilised properly.
I did one or two things to be proud of when I was swimming, yet the thing that gave me the most joy was winning the 12 and under Leeds and District gold medal for 200 medley. Small and local, although being the best in your city isn't that insignificant I guess, I'd kill to be the best tennis player in Leeds, the best physicist, the best cook or even the best planner for that many. Anyhooo...
Being the best in Leeds wasn't that special for me as a swimmer, but beating Leigh Oates certainly was. All the way through junior swimming so far, he kept cropping up. Beat me into second in Leeds, beat me into second in the North East, beat me into second in races abroad. Always just that little bit faster. It drove me crazy (he was a great friend too, but it didn't stop me wanting to beat him more than anything).
Life as a swimmer at that age is hard. Getting up to go swimming in a cold pool before school, racing home after school to do homework, no social life. That's hard. But the simple, searing pain of training is the hardest. There's a Small difference between just training hard and pushing it a little further. It's not much, but it counts for everything. Not so much in fitness etc, but how it makes you mentally hard. There's nothing in a sports competition you should go through that you haven't overcome in training, and just squeezing out an extra one percent in a swimming race is the difference between first and last.
Thinking of finally beating him made that possible. That race was the first time I beat him, and only just. And I made me happier than anything else I've experienced in sport.
Enemies makes things more interesting, they stop complacency, they force you to be better. That's why I love this idea from Nike, it's about a truth.
The truly great athletes have a nemesis to test themselves against. Coe had Ovett, Mcenroe had Borg, Robinson had Duran AND Haggler, Federer has Nadal.
That's why I probably love this Gatorade idea even more...
Enabling old rivals to Settle scores from years ago. Genius. The layers of story to bake into this....
Anyway, a rivalry can make the nobodies feel great for a little while too, even little boys swimming in race only 50 or so people really care about.
It's also a great way to get strategy quick. Find a mortal enemy, don't blindly hate it or discount what it does. Respect it, look at what it does find way to overcome it. That can be a another brand, but it can be something in life too- which is a smart way for big number ones to stay hungry. It keeps you sharp, stops you getting lazy, but fighting the good fight and involving your community is a great way to generate the irrational love and loyalty brands should be gunning for.
By the way, it's easy to get find an enemy to get motivated for the Great North swim, that enemy is watching the last vestiges of youth limp into the distance. No bloody way. Even vanity can be useful in peverse way eh?