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New Nike Ad Campaign Sparks Controversy

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 6, 2018 3:28:46 PM / by Michelle Seiler Tucker

Nike released its new “Just Do It” ad this past Labor Day, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign.  The ad was nothing short of controversial, as it contained a close up of Colin Kaepernick’s face with a quote that read, “ Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”.

Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback who is known more for taking a knee during the national anthem, rather than throwing a football, was chosen to headline this campaign due to his social justice activism.  The ad has sparked all sorts of reactions, from people burning their old Nike gear, while others rushed to the nearest store to purchase more Nike merchandise, to others taking their reactions to twitter.  Furthermore, Nike’s stock price fell 2.9% on Tuesday and was the worst performing company on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. 

Inevitably, Nike knew exactly what they were doing by running this controversial ad.  Nike knew upon the release of the ad that people would take to social media in outrage, support, or indifference, and this is just what the company wanted.  With the instantaneousness of social media, Nike is essentially gauging free advertising when people take to these platforms to express their feelings regarding the ad.  Whether you liked the ad or not, you, along with everyone else has been talking about Nike and the ad since Labor Day.  This clearly depicts the expertise behind Nike’s marketing team.  However, it is still too early to tell how the ad campaign will impact Nike’s long-term performance. 

The question still looms, will this ad be recognized as one of Nike’s most ingenious marketing campaigns to date, or was it a miscalculated risk that negatively impacted Nike’s long-term performance?

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