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Why Nike Got it Right

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy… Ask if they’re crazy enough”

There’s been an incredible amount of debate over the past couple of days around Nike’s recent campaign with Colin Kaepernick at the center. The media exposure has been massive (more on that later), the reactions strong, the conversation plenty. Some have praised the brand, while others have burned their Nike gear. But, no matter how you feel about the campaign, Nike, or their products, from a marketing/business perspective, it’s one of the most brilliant campaigns in a long time. Here’s why.

Purpose vs. product

  • In 2018, consumers are connecting to brands more than ever before through purpose. While it used to be about price and product, it’s shifted to an emotional connection with brands that have a larger vision (think Tesla)…. brands that take a stance… The brands that are winning put purpose/believe first, product/price second. While Nike has exemplified this to a T for many years, and has a reputation for making extremely iconic ads, but with the rise of social media, being more provocative in your messaging amplifies your brand that much more in today’s market. With this new campaign, Nike has distinguished itself from other brands, going deep into the movement of purpose.

If you sell to all, you sell to no one

  • Nike knew, very well, going into this campaign that they weren’t going to appeal to everyone… the concept of “if you sell to all, you sell to no one” has never ringed truer. But, even though Nike had their target audience in mind, they also knew that the campaign’s provocativeness would create extreme reactions, both positive and negative. No surprise, it’s worked. The media exposure has been massive. They’ve generated $43 million in media exposure, of which $19 million has been positive, $10 million negative, and $13 million neutral. So, not only is Nike showing it’s target audience they will take a calculated risk for a higher calling, they’ve captured the attention of people from other sides of the spectrum as well. Attention, in our oversaturated world, is everything.

Bottom Line:

If you’re building a brand, creating a business, or launching a new product, having a purpose, a higher calling, that runs through your messaging, content, and marketing is more important than ever. It can help separate you from others in your space but also capture the attention of audiences outside of your core. Whether it’s for your personal brand or business, focus on getting the brand right.

Nike is far from perfect and has had their fair share of problems, but remember, great product creates customers, great brand creates loyalists.

-Al Cavalieri


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