How Nike made taking a social stand part of its marketing

On September 3, 2018, a single tweet drew a line within the sand. A detailed-up shot of Colin Kaepernick’s face, with the phrases, “Imagine in one thing. Even when it means sacrificing every little thing.”

Timed to mark the beginning of the 2018/2019 NFL season and celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the tagline “Simply Do It,” the publish and its accompanying video business lit up the cultural discourse like no advert in latest reminiscence. Right here was arguably the most well-liked sports activities attire firm on the planet siding with one of probably the most divisive athletes on the earth. The message was clear: the swoosh could be on the aspect of anti-racism.

Within the wake of George Floyd’s homicide final 12 months, the corporate flipped its tagline to learn, “For as soon as, don’t do it,” addressing ongoing protests and systemic racism in America. These white letters over a darkish or black background embodied a message in step with previous Nike efforts round social points, like 2017’s “Equality” spot or 2019’s “By no means Cease Profitable” in assist of the U.S. girls’s nationwide soccer workforce and gender equality.

“It doesn’t matter how many individuals hate your model so long as sufficient individuals adore it,” Knight informed Quick Firm in 2018. “And so long as you’ve that angle, you may’t be afraid of offending individuals. You possibly can’t attempt to go down the center of the highway. You must take a stand on one thing, which is finally I believe why the Kaepernick advert labored.”

Knight’s outlook on the Kaepernick advert has develop into the model’s playbook because it continues to take a look at a younger, numerous viewers as its core buyer, after which act accordingly. Simply because the 2020 European Championship soccer match was kicking off in June 2021, Nike launched a spot name “The Land of New Soccer,” that featured a laundry checklist of inclusive characters – homosexual, straight, black, white, and everybody in between. It illustrated that the enjoyment of sport needs to be for completely everybody, no exceptions.

On this interview for The Work in Progress video sequence, Quick Firm spoke with Nike’s vice-president of range and inclusion Jarvis Sam, and the corporate’s vice-president of marketing Melanie Auguste, about how taking a stand on social points has develop into essential to the corporate’s award-winning marketing.

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