On an earnings call on September 25th, Nike CEO Mark Parker revealed that the company’s use of Colin Kaepernick in the brand’s recent “Just Do It” ad campaign has resulted in “record engagement with the brand.”
This has driven us here at Brandlective to ask the question, is controversy good for business?
Nike was both praised and criticised for the controversial campaign. Former NFL quarterback Kaepernick proved to be a divisive choice because of his history of ‘taking the knee’ – a reference to a player refusing to stand during the national anthem -a protest to racism and police brutality.
On the earnings call, Nike announced over the previous three months, up until August 31st, revenue was up 9% to $9.9 billion, the final day of the quarterly revenue was days before the first Kaepernick ad aired. However, since Nike has launched the Kaepernick ads, its stock has risen to 6.25%, adding $6.38 billion to the value of the company.
Bloomberg reported that Nike received over $43 million worth of media exposure in less than 24 hours. That is an astronomical figure that any company would bite your hand off for. Lending credence to the saying that any press is good press. There were 2.7 million mentions of Nike on social media in the 24 hours following the campaign launch. Many of the remarks were extremely negative, with many expressing their displeasure by burning their Nike products or cutting out the logo. But hey, Nike already has their money, so there’s only one loser here, right?
A unified stance.
On the flip side, many people took to Twitter to show their support for the decision. Including one of the athletes featured in the 30th-anniversary campaign, Seven-time Wimbledon champion, Serena Williams. Williams tweeted out the image of her ad, with the caption, ‘Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today. #justdoit.’
In the digital age where we are flooded with multi-media stories on a daily basis, a controversial campaign is memorable because it provokes a reaction. The effectiveness of controversy is evident with Nike generating $43 million worth of media exposure in under 24 hours of the campaign being unveiled, that type of exposure is priceless.
Making an impact and being memorable is the objective of any marketing campaign and there is no doubt that controversy is a great way to achieve that.
The real impact of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign won’t be known until the next quarter’s revenue is revealed. However, initial suggestions of uptake in traffic and engagement is a great early indicator of success for the retail giant.