• Emily Foucault

Nike Proves Ads Can Still Matter

Nike proved this week that in a disrupted world of advertising and marketing, brands can still make an impact with statements that matter with the release of what will be an iconic ad for years to come.

When you think of recent marketing campaigns you probably don’t have a huge list of memorable brands or campaigns that come to mind until this one.

Nike dropped a clear and concise message for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign with an ad featuring former NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who famously began kneeing during the national anthem in 2016 to combat racial injustices in the United States. The simple copy on the ad reads “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Below that is the Nike swoosh and “Just Do It.”

Marketers are always walking a line of what the brand stands for and what they as humans believe. Nike’s message rings true where other brands have fallen short because it’s a clear statement that people matter. More than that, it’s a message that your voice and reach are more important now than ever.

Nike’s new spot is also an exercise in timing. The megabrand had reportedly kept Kaepernick on contract and recently extended his deal despite the fact that he hasn’t played a single NFL game since the end of the 2016 season.

The ad will lead to losses and perhaps even consumer shifts for Nike, because that’s inevitably what happens when you take a bold stance on a controversial issue. It will also lead to sales jumps with new groups. But those changes are a very clear example that marketers have a responsibility to be socially responsible while also being fiscally responsible.

In the end, Nike’s ad shows what marketing can be at it’s best: Think responsibly, stand tall, act bold and be simple.