Another Brave Stance from Nike (Importance of Brand esSense #22)

We have previously written about Nike’s ‘brave’ branding and they have spoken out again, after focusing on messaging and enabling the importance of exercising at home (read here). This time it has flipped its message and is urging Americans. “For once, Don’t Do It”.

The message is focused on race and was posted on social media on Friday as a simple text-only video. The message reads, “For once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent. Don’t think you can’t be part of the change. Let’s all be part of the change.” You can watch the full ad here.

Four days before, George Floyd died in police custody in Minnesota, and video footage of his death soon went viral. The police officer involved has been charged with third-degree murder. Nike has a history of standing against bigotry, most famously releasing an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick who kneeled in protest during the American national anthem (read more here).

Nike issued a statement saying, “Nike has a long history of standing against bigotry, hatred and inequality in all forms … We hope that by sharing this film we can serve as a catalyst to inspire action against a deep issue in our society and encourage people to help shape a better future.”

Nike have been very consistent in this stand, which has not always been comfortable (especially when some customers were burning Nike products). Bill Bernbach once famously said, “A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money”. Nike’s brand purpose is about bravery. Unlike many other brands, Nike are walking the talk in many ways, but would have greater moral authority if they had minority representation in their senior leadership.

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