One thing is certain, Nike’s deal was controversial but any Advertising Agency can tell you that it was also strategic. Their newest Just Do It campaign featured a close up image of Kaepernick with the words “Believe in Something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” which references the former NFL Quarterback going unsigned due to his kneeling during the national anthem, which he did in 2016 to protest racial injustice.
The ad was obviously a risk and caused a firestorm online with consumers burning shoes, cutting up clothing and swearing to no longer support the company financially. Not everyone lambasted the company, however, there was a surge of widespread support from High Profile people. The buzz generated by the advert has also had significant benefits for Nike, with over $43 million USD worth of media exposure, gained within the first 24 hours. Nearly $19 million of that media exposure is positive according to an analysis by Bloomberg.
The ad was successful. At the very least, it’s viral and everyone is talking about it.
The primary reason for the success behind this campaign can be summed up in a tweet by Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst for the NDP Group, “Old angry white men are not a core demographic for Nike.” The majority of Nike’s audience/customer base is ethnically diverse, younger than 35 years old and fall into the category of “Belief-Driven Buyers“, meaning they are more likely to purchase from brands who take a favorable stand on a social issue.
Not only did they gain a spike in their stock prices, Nike is planning to release a line of products in conjunction with the ad — which will undoubtedly be supported by the 60% of millennials who are belief-driven buyers. They will maintain their lucrative relationship with the NFL and thrive in the wake of controversy.