Screen shot of Colin Kaepernick’s tweet
The launching of Nike’s last campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its iconic motto, ‘Just Do It’, was without a doubt the most talked about event in marketing last week.
It started when NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, shared an ad on his own Twitter page with his own face with the caption ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.’
The image triggered a divisive, but also extremely passionate debate on all the main social media platforms, led to a predictable round of protest and boycott threats, and even became a meme. The advert is now gaining life of its own, meaning it will fully permeate pop culture and continue to get shared over and over again.
Anyone familiar with Nike’s brand history knows that they aren’t afraid to speak out their values and beliefs.
Over the last 30 years, Nike has shed light and sparked international debate around many highly sensitive issues, including ageism, homosexuality and gender equality –at a time when most of these were still considered very controversial.
This last wave of public outrage has more to do with how divisive political and social debate have become, than with the fact that Nike has decided to share its views.
With the Kaepernick advert, Nike is letting everyone know that it too isn’t afraid to risk everything for its beliefs – and this makes this partnership even more powerful.
Despite the public outrage on social media and all the sneaker burning we’ve seen last week, for Nike’s most loyal fans – those who live by their motto and share their values – such a bold action will only make their adoration grow stronger.
And beyond that, the advert does a great deal to strengthen the brand’s relationship with the youth everywhere, who are known for being more cynical of big brands and institutions.
Not choosing to stand up for its brand values and express a view on issues that their consumers feel so passionate about can backfire too, even if only in the long term. We all had seen how choosing not to say anything can be just as risky – remember the Twitter backlash on Uber due to president Trump’s Muslim travel ban?
We always say that in the face of growing cynicism, the best way to futureproof the brand is to stay as true as possible to the brand’s beliefs no matter what. And what better way to do it than by practising what one preaches on a daily basis?
In our view, ‘Believe in something’ is so powerful because it shows in actions, and not only in words, that Nike lives by its Just Do It motto just as much as its most loyal fans do.