Foolish or Fruitful…
Foolish, or Fruitful?
For those of you that like to follow your favourite stars, you’re probably be aware that Monday night saw all the major names from the big and small screen come out in force.
It was the star-studded 70th Emmy Awards.
All that glitz and glamour. Sparkling screen stars. Fabulous frocks. Money oozing out of the pores of those in attendance.
But what was everyone focused on, including one well known British tabloid?
Yes, that’s right. Jenifer Lewis’ choice of footwear.
The actress, comedian and activist, who had roles in Sister Act and Beaches (to name but a few), was sporting a pair of Nikes.
Because she was supporting Colin Kaepernick.
For those of you that have been wearing blinkers, let’s back track a little.
Back to basics….
Colin Kaepernick is (or at least was) an American Football player for the San Francisco 49ers.
(You know, that game over the pond that they have the cheek to call football, whilst labelling our sacred game as soccer. Basically, American Football is rugby for softies who need a ton of extra padding).
Anyway, way back when, in August 2016. Kaepernick knelt whilst they were playing the American National Anthem at the start of a game.
He refusal to stand was in protest to the treatment of racial minorities in the USA.
Taking a stance against police shootings of African-American men, he claimed ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.’
I can see where he was coming from.
It was a very brave move indeed.
And other players, both at the time and in many games since, have knelt to show respect for the men and women that fight for their country.
They do this as opposed to standing to salute the American flag and embracing the country’s injustices.
Unfortunately, even though the kneeling continues, there was clearly a hint of foolishness in the instigator’s decision.
Because, by the following year, no teams would sign Kaepernick and his NFL career came to an end.
Nicked by Nike
But, fast forward to this month and, rather than being picked up as an all-star quarterback, Colin Kaepernick instead caught the eye of sportswear giant, Nike.
(I can see the recognition dawning, as this news hit our side of the puddle too).
He became the face of their 30th Anniversary ‘Just Do It’ advert.
‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.’
Wise words from an advertising strapline indeed.
And the Nike brand chose well, considering the sacrifices Kaepernick himself made for his beliefs.
The advert features several superstar athletes and works to inspire people to achieve their dreams, no matter how big or small.
Caution to the wind
Of course, Nike took a risk. They were certainly offering an emotive end-user experience.
And customer feedback flooded in.
The advert was completely slated by some.
Many US conservatives promised to boycott the brand in light of the controversial commercial.
There were even videos posted online of Nike shoes being set on fire.
And debate on the merits of the advert is still rife.
So, what on earth were Nike thinking?! Were they out of their minds?!
No, not at all.
Nikes core customers are younger men in cities and millennials. Plus, two-thirds of the company’s trainer customers are younger than 35.
So, it made sense to focus on admired sports stars.
And, also, to communicate with their audience in an authentic, culturally relevant, experiential and emotionally engaging way.
The appeal of the athletes and their powerful stories was aimed at helping Nike to reach a younger demographic.
And whatever political slant people may see in the advertisement, Nike is making noise.
Which can only be a good thing.
Indeed, online sales of Nike products surged by 31% when they announced that controversy causing Kaepernick would be starring in the advert.
Following the campaign’s release, the brand gained a huge increase in awareness, as well as increased core customer loyalty.
They pulled in 170,000 new Instagram followers and a post featuring Kaepernick was the second most liked in Nike’s history.
And despite any negative consumer feedback, the extra exposure can only be a positive thing for the brand and sales. It was good exposure for Colin Kaepernick too.
Because let’s face it, I doubt many (any?) Brits had heard of him before the advert.
And even the haters were filling Nike’s coffers by buying the products, even if their sole intention was to burn them!
Now that’s marketing genius.
Just Do It….
Ok, I am not saying that all British businesses out there reading this should rush straight out to find the most controversial famous name you can.
That could well be commercial suicide and, unless you are prepared to deal with extensive customer feedback management endeavours, I wouldn’t recommend it.
But, it definitely gives us food for thought.
If your brand has values that you adhere to and your loyal consumers agree with them, there’s no harm in speaking your mind.
After all, if you are on the same wavelength as your customers, there’s a big chance there are many more people out there who feel the same.
As a general rule, end-users love a bit of controversy, especially when it strikes a cord with them, as does the issue of racial injustice when it comes to the Nike campaign.
People like something to believe in. And they love airing their opinions. So not even the most negative customer feedback is bad news.
As the saying goes… there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Of course, it’s advisable not to have your loyal consumers up in arms about something you do or say.
So, it’s vitally important to understand your market. We can help with our end-user experience monitoring!
But, once you know you’re on the same page as the majority of your customers and you have something you want to tell them, even it’s it a little risky….
Just do it.