For the 30th anniversary of their “Just Do It” motto, Nike released an advertisement featuring ex-NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has been under scrutiny since 2016 when he became the first NFL player to take a knee during the National Anthem in protest for the killings of African-Americans by the hands of police officers.
The advertisement features a black and white portrait of Kaepernick with the statement, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.” A nod to the player, who has seemingly lost his career due to his activism.
Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick is met by both praise and aversion across the country. Since the advertisement launched yesterday (Labor Day 2018), Nike has received $43 million in media coverage. Its share price has also dropped 3%, costing the company $3.75 billion in market cap. Is Nike sacrificing everything?
Standing For Something
Nike has always publicly stood by their values and beliefs. Last week, the French Open banned tennis-champion Serena Williams’ life-saving bodysuit, citing that the player “must respect the game and the place”. Nike, the creator of the bodysuit, leaped into action. The brand took to social media to post a meme stating “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers. #JustDoIt.”
These are the most recent examples of how Nike has taken controversial moments in sports to publicly display the company’s values. This is something many companies try to do, some failing miserably (like that Pepsi police advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner). However, Nike seems to continuously hit the mark, giving a masterclass in brand values.
A Masterclass in Brand Values
Brand values communicate what your company believes in. They are one of the things that differentiate you from your competitors. Having values that touch a customer on a personal level, builds a relationship between them and your business. This keeps the customer coming back and recommending you to friends.
Seth Godin defined brand value as “the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories, and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.”
This statement demonstrates how narrative and relationship surrounding a brand influences buyer’s decisions.
Knowing the risk of negative press and boycott, Nike has chosen to continue to stand by its values. Nike’s known to focus on diversity, inclusion, and community. They have multiple initiatives that are in alignment with those values, keeping their brand message and tone consistent.
Nike recently mentioned it wanted to start selling more to runners, women, and young people. Publicly voicing their stance on issues that matter most to these groups, Nike is hoping to build new, strong connections with their customers.
Will It Hurt Or Help?
Along with investors selling shares, some people have taken to social media posting videos of themselves burning and destroying Nike products (which they’ve already purchased). Some users have also called for a boycott of Nike products.
President Donald Trump told The Daily Caller that Nike’s decision sends “a terrible message.”
Others have chosen to praise the decision. The NFL issued a statement showing their support for Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick, stating:
“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding, and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities. The social issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Serena Williams, Big Sean, Lebron James, Ava DuVernay, and others have also come out in solidarity with Nike’s campaign (Serena Williams and Lebron James will also be a part of the anniversary campaign).
Some investors have chosen to remain silent, waiting to see if stock-trading sites popular amongst Millenials like Robinhood see a surge of Nike (NYSE: NKE) stocks purchased.
Whether this will be a good or bad decision for Nike is still yet to be seen. But one thing is for certain, it was more genuine than opportunistic.
Defining Your Company
Strong companies often connect with their customers on a value level to build an emotional connection between the customer and the brand. Customers who feel that you share similar beliefs about what’s important are more likely to support your business.
According to Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchasing decisions are driven by emotion. Customers having an emotional connection to your brand increases trust, sales growth, and brand loyalty.
Having defined brand values are critical for building your brand story, visuals, and culture. Everything should be in line with your values. Without them, you’re just another brand with a product or service. But, aligning yourself with causes for sales is a tactic that will not work in your favor.
What does your company stand for? Our Bold Brand Workshop helps new brands define themselves. This one day, personal workshop clarifies your vision and develops a strong foundation for your brand. Are you ready to get started? It’s time to believe in something.