Last weekend’s Super Bowl brought renewed attention to Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign featuring sidelined quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick notably took a knee during the National Anthem last year to protest racial inequality and police violence against African American. The Nike campaign ignited a fierce firestorm of both positive and negative sentiment and sent Nike’s stock soaring. A number of leading CMOs recently weighed in with their thoughts about the Nike campaign.
John Hancock CMO Barbara Goose: I really admired Nike for what they did with Colin Kaepernick and making a statement. It was really risky, but it also earns them respect in a very genuine way and I think that’s what ultimately happened. I remember being with my dad right after they launched it and he said ‘huge mistake.’ Of course that didn’t last for very long. They earned respect from their own audience and then grew their audience because of that statement. It’s not easy to plan for those and it’s super risky but as a marketer I have respect for that.
Hear more from Goose, Pomeroy, Brimmer and 17 other top CMOs on marketing challenges, growth opportunities, trends and key marketing tactics they’re using in our 2019 CMO Roundtable.
Ally CMO Andrea Brimmer: I’m a huge fan of everything Nike does. They’re so smart about living in cultural moments. I love the Colin Kaepernick campaign. I know it was super controversial, but I thought Nike was brave. They knew their customer and the appeal that it would have. The fact that they created the amount of talk value for that execution by just simply putting it out there and saying nothing more was brilliant. That’s really knowing your brand; really knowing your customer and really knowing how to strike all different kinds of emotion whether people got angry, cried, loved it, laughed. It was a stroke of genius. As a marketer you have to admire it whether you agree with Colin Kaepernick or not is beside the point, as a marketer it was a stroke of genius.
IMAX CMO JL Pomeroy: I thought it was brilliant what Nike did with the Colin Kaepernick ad. Whatever your politics or however you lean you have to appreciate the deep disruptor nature of that campaign. While they might have generated a boycott on one side, $6 billion in sales in pretty hard to argue with. That was a pretty tremendous campaign.