Nike’s controversial advertising decision to feature former NFL 49ers quarterback turned activist, Colin Kaepernick, gained a lot buzz and backlash this week. In the 30th anniversary version of its “Just Do It” ad campaign, Nike released image of Kaepernick’s face with the slogan: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” The ad gained very polarizing attention, some boycotting Nike-lighting their products on fire, while others praising Nike and Kaepernick. Some are calling the marketing move “genius”. USAToday said, “on social media, people who say they would never have considered buying Nike now are talking about moving to the brand.” Although I do not favor the political and controversial marketing approach the company took, I do foresee the campaign as an overall success for Nike.
It is quite clear that Nike aimed for the younger and liberal consumer in this ad, while considering the uproar conservatives would bring. According to inc.com,”Seventy-eight percent of respondents who self-identify as liberal want brands to take a stand, while just about half (52 percent) of respondents who self-identify as conservative feel the same,” Sprout Social found. In other words liberals want brands to speak out. The ad speaks to the younger generation, and according to businessinsider.com, 67% of Nike’s customer base is younger than 35. In addition
The earned media Nike received was included in this decision as well. The ad reached people across so many platforms. Kaepernick is just shy of 2 million followers, and there were 2.7 million mentions of Nike over the previous 24 hours. The coverage Nike is widespread. “There have been more than 5.2 million social posts mentioning the brand in the past 72 hours according to social media.” Including “over the past seven days, social media mentions of Nike have increase $265%” (mediapost.com).
This story represents the power that social media and coverage has in this digital age.