*** Editor’s Note: Before getting into this post I need to issue a quick disclaimer. The following isn’t an opinion for or against the National Anthem controversy. There are too many opinions on this to count, so I don’t need to add mine to the pile. Instead I’m covering Nike’s decision to feature Colin Kaepernick in its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign from a media perspective only. ***
Nike’s business decision to run this campaign is pure marketing brilliance. Before you throw your hands in the air to that statement consider the following . . .
- Any Publicity Is Good Publicity: The PR earthquake around Kaepernick/Just Do It is literally off the Richter scale. Brands like Nike live on being at the forefront of the social zeitgeist – so mission accomplished there. In a few months someone will come out with a ratio of how much earned media through social amplification Nike received compared to their paid media. Expect a never-before-seen-ratio in Nike’s favor.
- Nike’s Power Over The NFL: You’d think the NFL would be all over Nike for effectively launching a gasoline missile into the league’s National Anthem debacle. But you won’t hear a peep from the NFL because Nike is too important to them. Between league and team sponsorships its estimated that Nike spends $1B annually on the NFL. That’s too large of a number for Roger Goodell and the team owners to jeopardize.
- Playing To Your Constituency: You could argue that Nike is alienating customers who are against Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem. But Nike’s core customers are younger urban consumers who are more likely to be multicultural. Making such a strong statement in support of the decision to kneel is right in this group’s belief wheelhouse. So yes, Nike has chosen one side of this hot button issue, but it happens to be the side its core customers are already on.
Only time will tell if Nike will be helped or hurt by the Kaepernick campaign. My educated guess is that they’ve made a shrewd calculation and have all their bases covered for the inevitable backlash. If nothing else we’re finally getting to see some marketing fireworks.
BTW – if you haven’t seen it yet here’s the 2-minute long version of the ad. Let me know what you think.