What We Can All Learn From Nike

Just Do It.

A slogan familiar to us all over the years has repositioned itself in the hearts of many Americans as of late. Earlier this week, Nike released a new ad campaign for the 30th anniversary of its famous three words in what some are considering the most controversial way possible. NFL player Colin Kaepernick is up close and personal with the masses in the new photo for the ad campaign, featuring a black and white headshot of Kaepernick with the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” A powerful statement from a public figure, and a bold move from a sports retail giant. Many small, up and coming, and personal brands may shy away from mirroring the footsteps of Nike, but perhaps, after the smoke has cleared, there is a lesson available to us all.

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When you’re one of the most popular athletic brands in the world, losing an audience member or a few thousand is not the end of the world.

The Nike ad campaign is a perfect example of how controversy can be used to help your brand stand out amongst the crowd. Sure, Nike has been a household name for decades, but now Nike is being admired for taking a stance on a sensitive topic. By taking into consideration the political climate of our country today, Nike has been able to use it to propel itself to new heights. The retail giant has always been an all-inclusive brand, and all things considered, this step to choose a side required a severe risk-reward assessment. Clearly, Nike made the right move as their stocks have risen to $83.47, an all-time high for the company. What does this teach us? Don’t break a sweat searching for the next hot political topic to get people and their emotions involved in your brand, but instead, take note of the fact that emotions sell, people like to feel, and if you can connect with their feelings, you win their hearts and continued support.

There are times when it is appropriate to share your values on an issue.

As a brand owner, often times there is the underlying notion of keeping your political views private. It is no secret that Colin Kaepernick has taken a stance in the face of what he and many other Americans have experienced to be social injustice. The question then becomes, when is it acceptable to share your semi-unpopular opinion? In Nike’s case, the company approaching the 30-year anniversary of their famous slogan was the perfect opportunity to hone in on the fact that 91 percent of millennials will switch brands because they support a specific cause. Nike, in a sense, has given its stamp of approval to Kaepernick and single-handedly polarized what seems to be an entire nation concerning who will #StandWithKap or who will #BurnNike. Using morality in marketing is far from a new technique, but understanding the importance of researching market trends is what will allow you the time to assess the risks of voicing your opinion and prepare your brand for the initial backlash you may endure. Not every company or brand is in a position to take such a stand, or just may not be interested in doing so; what is most important is that before you choose to act, be sure it is for something you believe in wholeheartedly.

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Going forward, what are some ways that your brand can take advantage of the social climate our nation is in today? What are some issues that drive you, and are perhaps the pillars of what your brand stands on? Would you rather have a large audience that is seemingly disconnected or do you prefer to have an audience that shares your values and ultimately will band together to ensure your longevity? And the ultimate question, when was the last time you and your colleagues discussed a Nike ad until today? It looks like they may be on to something!

As for us at EMB, we’ll choose to hold onto our Nikes and Converse while we dream crazy.