As comms people we talk a lot about being bold. About taking risks in the interest of standing out and making a powerful statement about who our brands are and what they stand for.
But, as Michael Jordan once (apocryphally) said when asked why he never used his platform for politics, “Republicans buy sneakers too.” So, all too often we fail to walk the walk – ducking the fight in hopes of dodging the negative publicity that comes with a misstep.
Offending your audience isn’t cheap, after all. And nobody wants to tell the boss that their campaign resulted in lost sales.
That’s why we should all admire Nike’s new campaign, celebrating 30 years of “Just do it.” It’s fronted by Colin Kaepernick, the star quarterback who hasn’t played a game since he famously kneeled during the national anthem in protest at police shootings of African-American men and other social injustices faced by black people in the United States.
There’s been backlash, with a number of those on the far-right (including some influential personalities) recording themselves burning their Nike gear in response to the ads featuring Kaepernick and fellow legendary black athletes Serena Williams and Odell Beckham Jr.
And the share price has taken a hit, falling by more than three per cent in the immediate aftermath of the campaign launch.
But this is not the crisis you might think at first. In fact, if you take a closer look, you’ll see that adidas and Puma shares are down too.
In fact the slump story reinforces the message the brand is trying to push: Nike will stand up for what it believes, even if it means picking sides. And sacrificing the bottom line.
The stance will almost certainly lose Nike some customers. But new ones will fill their sneakers. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the share price scaling new heights in the very near future.
So, I, for one, will remember this the next time I consider hedging an idea or playing it safe. Bold is beautiful. And, no matter what, brands should believe in something. Or they’ll be remembered for nothing.
Dan George is creative director at Aspectus Group.