30 years in business and Nike is still coloring outside the lines. This week the apparel company announced their latest ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49er has been the center of controversy over the past year after sparking what some deep as a revolution when he decided to take a knee instead of standing for the National Anthem. Kaepernick started the protest in response to the unjust killings across the country of unarmed minorities. Soon after, athletes and other supporters across the country followed suit, causing an uproar and boycotts against the NFL.
With the current political climate and other controversies over race and ethnicity, many companies are afraid of pushing the envelope in terms of branding. But true branding lies within staying true to the brand values that your company is known for. Nike has a long history of supporting athletes from all walks of life; many of whom would not have been successful with sports. So it should be no surprise that Nike would continue to show their support and their non-conformance to political or social norms.
The global enterprise launched their “Equality” campaign including athletes such as LeBron James, Serena Williams and Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American fencer who wears a hijab when competing, and transgender triathlete Chris Mosier. Their new ad has enraged many who feel as though Kaepernick is disrespectful to the American flag, but also reinforced the support of people who have backed Kaepernick along this journey. Stats show that their stock has already started to drop, but Nike execs don't seem the least bit concerned. The company seems to be so confident about their brand and their loyal supporters. THIS is why Nike still wins, even if they lose money. Had Nike discontinued their habit of campaigns that promoted social good, it would have left their fan base with questions about the loyalty that the company had to its customers.
Consumers want to know that their hard earned dollars matter. They want to feel one with the companies they support. This type of unwavering support replaces any money that may have been lost in short term gains. It's what gives global brands longevity.
Your brand is your baby. It's up to you to stay true to your values as you nurture that baby. The long term benefits will outweigh any short term benefits you may encounter.
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