Nike's ad

Let’s talk about Nike’s iconic Colin Kaepernick ad…

Nobody ever moved forward by standing still, and similarly, nobody ever made noise by remaining quiet. In order to move mountains, you need to have the courage to push. And in fear of sounding a bit like a motivationalist, I’m going to say things in simpler terms. I think that Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ ad with Colin Kaepernick was a stroke of genius. It was brilliant and bold, and that’s what makes for a truly great campaign.

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

To mark 30 years of the ‘Just Do It’ slogan – Nike really just did it. Through voicing their obvious beliefs and opinions behind the (literal) eyes of Colin Kaepernick – the famed football star who refused to stand for the US national anthem in protest at police brutality and racism. Which of course, angered Trump and most of his Republican followers. The US president actually called players who disrespect the US flag “sons of bitches” (of course he did) and protested for them to be sacked. Which once again simply reinforces my longstanding view that Donald Trump needs a bloody PR assistant by his side at every second… To prevent him from saying, well, such stupid things.

What followed the campaign by Nike, anyhow, was a trending hashtag: #JustBurnIt (a creative play on words considering the people it came from) as Kaepernick cynics called for a boycott of the brand that extended to burning all Nike products. Which in my opinion just sounds just a bit pointless. But that’s beside the point I’m looking to make anyway.

I wrote a post the other day, about Tess Holliday and ‘that‘ Cosmo cover. And I think that the points I made should be cemented even more. I recently spoke to one of the guys I work with too about how your brand and its efforts can become pointless unless you have an edge. Unless you can be differentAnd that’s exactly what I think about this ad by Nike, and by Tess’ Cosmopolitan cover too.

In order to really stand out in a really saturated market, to beat your competitors, and to make some great PR, you have to have a personality. Don’t shy away from what you believe in, in fear of the repercussions that may follow. Nike has cleverly voiced something they really resonate with through this campaign, and all I can do is applaud that. What they’ve done with this campaign is actually embedded in the advertisement itself.

They believed in something, even if it meant sacrificing everything. 

There’ll be cynics everywhere you go and for everything you do. So isn’t it better to stop playing it safe? I love seeing brands that aren’t afraid to be a little bit daring. It’s that kind of movement that generates really great PR. I mean, how many times have you heard this ad being spoken about over the past week or two? For better or for worse, the conversation is still there. It’s working for them.

Starting the conversation

All it takes is a picture to start an exchange, and that’s what’s happened here. The ad alone has generated thousands of discussions. Not all of them good, but that’s besides the point. People are still talking.

Conversations about the nature of the ad and the messages behind it are not the only thing that have been generated.  It would seem even things with a powerful and political meaning cannot escape ‘meme Twitter’. And many are apparently enjoying playing about with the campaign.

And in my opinion, this isn’t even a bad thing. The repurposing of the ad is only strengthening its position. Everybody knows what ad these fun remakes are relating back to, and more importantly the brand that produced the original ad too. The publicity for this is huge. This is a PR campaign that I’ll never be able to praise enough – it’s hit absolutely every mark and ticked every single box.

The numbers don’t lie

And, if you ever want to know the value of great PR and marketing, then you need look no further than Nike’s recent sale figures that have defied the Kaepernick backlash and laughed in the face of the naysayers.

It would seem #JustBurnIt was #JustNotAsEffective as its perpetrators would have hoped. In fact, the stupidity of the whole thing has only generated more attention and caught the eyes of more people who would support the campaign – rather than oppose it. Me included, FYI.

Edison Trends has announced that speculation that the advertising campaign would lead to a drop in sales has completely unfounded. “The research confirms that, at least for now, the company is suffering no negative repercussions in sales.”

Take that, misanthropes.

In fact, Nike sales actually grew 31% from Sunday through Tuesday over Labor Day this year, besting 2017’s comparative 17% increase.

So there you have it.

I spent my whole third year investigating the argument around measuring return on investment from PR campaigns. And while my research found that there’s no one true metric that can outrightly say “this is what PR will return you”. I think it’s pretty clear to see from the above just what PR can do. Numbers don’t lie and in this case, they are certainly singing praises.

What brands can learn from this

Nike has set the standards for creative and contextual campaigns. Never again will I appreciate an advertisement of this nature unless it has this same depth. They really have raised the bar forever.

I think the main things that brands can learn from Nike is that you should never shy away from what you believe in. Don’t hide away from what makes you, or your business unique. Shout it from the rooftops and plaster it on billboards – you have a voice, so make sure it’s heard.

I’m a big fan of a volatile campaign. I really do love it when brands are a little bit silly and know how to have fun with their image. However, to me, nothing will ever speak volumes as much as a movement with meaning. Something that really stands for something. Nike has done it here, Dove did it with their campaign for real beauty and CALM did it recently with their compelling #Project84. Empowerment in marketing is one of the best ways to make a campaign memorable. And with a memorable campaign, comes a memorable brand. So brands there’s a lesson to be learned here.

What do you think about Nike’s ad? I’d love to hear your comments.

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PR and lifestyle blogger jessica pardoe

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