Nike’s recent campaign featuring former NFL player and human rights activist Colin Kaepernick, has caused much buzz this past week. This is not the first time Nike has caused uproar amidst its own market, as they boldly look to gain a larger market share. The brand’s famous slogan “Just Do It” encourages you to technically take a take a leap of faith and pursue your dreams/goals amidst adversity. However, over the decades this is not the kind of brand that ever makes decisions based on ‘taking a leap of faith’. As far as I’ve seen it, Nike have always known what they are doing, and more importantly where they are going.
What was the Big Deal?
For those who are in the dark about what happened this past week, Nike used former NFL (that’s a US Football sporting association) player Colin Kaepernick to be the face for their new campaign. Kaepernick made headlines in 2016 when he decided to kneel during the pre-game anthem instead of standing. Kaepernick did this in protest to the ongoing police violence against people of colour in the states. His actions received backlash from the US public and the US president Donald Trump.
This week Nike decided to use him as their ambassador for the 30th celebration and image for the brand’s campaign. This did not go well with a very vocal and small group of member of the US public. Those opposed to Kaepernick went on a rage on social media showing their disgust for Nike and the campaign by showing videos and images of them burning and cutting up their Nike products.
This caused Nike to take a very short-lived dip in stock of -0.12% within minutes.
#BoycottNike was trending globally, as many took to Twitter. Those in protest saw it as choosing between their country or the brand.
However, the brand has bounced back with its stock increasing due to the immense support it has received locally and globally. Many professional U.S athletes have continued wearing their Nike sportswear as they stand by Kaepernick’s protest. Burning Nike gear did nothing to waver Nike’s credibility.
This is not the first time I have seen Nike cause rejection and apprehension in the US market. When the brand decided to launch a hijab for female Muslim athletes, many took to social media to express their disgust. I saw a woman make a really offensive comment on FB that Nike were supporting “terrorists”. This week they claimed Nike were anti-patriotic.
Whatever your stance on Nike’s Campaign and products, it ultimately created immense buzz across the world. In fact, most of the time it always does. Nike essentially knows its brand identity, know which markets it wants to tap into and grow with into the future.
The bad press and backlash only furthered their brands credibility and have successfully expanded into a new market. Today, everything is global with the immense amount of marketing and exposure made through social media. It’s also 24/7 and national campaigns can be seen everywhere at any time.
As a US brand they know their sales are not 100% locally driven and that their international presence plays a big part in meeting their profits. Therefore, the kind of local ambassadors and people they associate themselves with ultimately represent the brands integrity throughout the world. That in itself can be difficult to achieve. To do this you will have your haters, and take a flack. The risky thing is that allowing negative press to make a buzz is that it could have been supported or ignored. However, it can leverage your brand into the right direction and start that much need dialogue between customers over a topic that clearly needs addressing. Technically it all lies in how you would execute it and how well you know your desired target market. Of course, that debate had to start right at home where the brand is based. Anyone can tell you that if there is no local support or acknowledgement for your brand, there definitely won’t be global support.
The adverts for the campaign continue to show athletes pushing their limits, with Colin Kaepernick voicing over the scenes. It still has to market its products main function and that’s sportswear, but not without asserting its identity.
Nike has come under fire for their manufacturing and low cost labour in the East. This has led many to already boycott the brand from then on.
From last week’s issue, it is clear that brands are more about the identity of the people and not all product and functionality. The quality and product is important, especially in the sporting industry, however most of their sales lie in the everyday consumer who is not a professional athlete. Creating a clear persona that integrates their shared values on a global scale is pivotal to a global brand. Nike already created sportswear made from recycled plastics. They are always looking to maintain and integrate their markets needs and to grow into new avenues.
Brands can take heed of how important it is to grow with their desired market, even if it means letting go of one where that most likely offer no room for growth in the future.
My relationship with Nike
As I suffer from plantar fasciitis, choosing shoes to be on my feet for a long period of time is important. I’m willing to spend a bit more for my dainty feet and to avoid the pain. Brands such as Asics, New Balance and Nike have not let me down for outdoor sport as in my case the product’s functionality is most important. As a result, last year I decided to invest in a decent pair of lifestyle sneakers to that I felt looked good and had a very good in-step built in for my fragile high arch, plantar and was light. I ended up choosing these Nike Cortez. In terms of form and function, I love them.
For a customer like myself, I’m willing to invest a bit to ensure my comfort is met and the product is up to standard. However, I don’t want to feel ashamed for wearing a brand with a horrible reputation. Know your market and acknowledge the individuals that make it up are complex with a variety of needs and perceptions.
Know Thy Customer
I’m someone who believes fashion and apparel is more than a product, it’s a living concept as it exists only through people. I, like most people, hate unethical business practises that infringe upon human rights. Nike is just an expensive brand at the end of day, but their products are good. Let what happened to Nike and Kaepernick be a reminder how product and brand identity are inseparable in today’s business world. People as brands and brands as people have become a serious marketing trend for any lifestyle product and service.