As many of you are probably aware, Nike launched a new ad campaign celebrating their 30th Anniversary of Nike’s Just Do It campaign on Labor Day. While the ad featured many athletes, the ad also included a voice over and small screen time featuring former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick. Since Colin Kaepernick is known for starting the kneeling movement in the NFL to protest the treatment of African-Americans in the U.S, many are criticizing Nike’s inclusion of Kaepernick in their campaign.
Since the campaign’s launch, opinions from Advertising and Branding professionals have been mixed. Most are evaluating the campaign on a variety of metrics which we will also touch on below including sentiment as well as stock prices & sales.
First on sentiment. Consumer opinions seem to be even across the board with: 38% of consumers felt neutral about the ad, 31% positive and 30% negative. Besides this breakdown, there are other factors to take into consideration with regards to sentiment. Scott Galloway, professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, believes Nike took a very calculated risk with their new ad campaign. Roughly 60% of Nike’s full-year revenue is outside of the U.S. This is very important considering most of the world does not believe America is handling the race issue well. Another fact to note comes from a poll that Sprout Social conducted. According to the poll, 52% of respondents are more likely to show greater brand loyalty and 44% would purchase more from the brand with only a small percentage would completely boycott the brand.
While opinions have been mixed, we have seen some significant backlash and negative conversation including:
- College of the Ozarks announcing that it is choosing “country over company” and is dropping Nike over the sportswear company’s use of the former NFL player
- Various conservative media outlets, select active military and veterans, as well as general public have reacted on social media by burning shoes, removing Nike logos from their apparel and committing to #boycottnike.
- One NFL player and military veteran, voiced his concerns of the use of “sacrifice everything” in regard to a career or a hobby vs. a life during War. Note: a sports commentator pointed out that the bar of dying for your Country may be unrealistic, in that a vast majority of Americans do not fall into this category.
- Negative sentiment increased the first few days after the ad dropped, which may indicate a larger trend
Regarding stock prices & sales there has been some movement here. While Nike stock initially took a dip, it is now up +0.38 as of 9/12 and stock is still up 50% in 2018. As far as sales, Nike online sales over Labor Day are up year-over-year.
While sentiment may still be fluctuating, it seems that Nike took a very calculated risk to weed out their worst customers and create deeper bonds with their loyal customers as well as the up and coming Gen Y & Gen Z consumers. And it seems that Nike is looking to strengthen this connection and bond even more by introducing an apparel line specifically for Kaepernick as well as a contribution to his charity, Know Your Rights. Overall, we believe Nike’s campaign was a success from both a monetary perspective as well as consumer relationships.