Did Nike Online Sales Jump 31 Percent After Announcing Kaepernick Campaign?

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Written by Ann Brown

Some folks started burning their Nike products. Others shredded them, saying Nike was about to be destroyed financially. One Louisiana mayor said he was going to ban Nike products from city rec facilities, all because the athletic apparel company decided to feature former NFL player, activist Colin Kaepernick, in its new advertising campaign.

After all, President Donald Trump has spoken out against Kaepernick for starting the movement to kneel during the National Anthem to protest the treatment of Blacks in America. Millions of Americans felt the same way as Trump. Then, of course, Trump badmouthed the Nike campaign in a series of tweets, declaring, “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.”

But lo and behold, Nike didn’t falter financially for its bold move. In fact sales have actually increased a whopping 31 percent since the unveiling of its latest “Just Do It” campaign.

“After an initial dip immediately after the news broke, Nike’s NKE, +0.65% online sales actually grew 31% from the Sunday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday, as compared with a 17% gain recorded for the same period of 2017, according to San Francisco–based Edison Trends,”Market Watch reported.

The new Nike ad campaign is narrated by Kaepernick and includes appearances by other high-profile African-American athletes Odell Beckham Jr., LeBron James, and Serena Williams. The ads encourage people to follow their dreams despite what others say.

Nike sales
This Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, combo of file photos shows athletic shoes worn by professional athletes. After years of building billion-dollar brands around sports celebrities, shoe and apparel makers now find themselves flashpoints in the political, racial and cultural clashes surrounding the Trump administration and some athletes are increasingly using their shoes as a form of expression. (AP Photo)

 

“Calling a dream crazy is not an insult,” Kaepernick says in the Nike spot. “It’s a compliment.”

Madison Avenue observers have praised the campaign. Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel said the “more edgy, risky” campaign commanded attention while revitalizing the company’s three-decades-old “Just Do It” slogan:

“The extensive roster of athletes and their powerful stories are core to the company’s stepped-up efforts in reaching a younger demographic,” Nagel wrote. The Kaepernick campaign “is clearly an effective way to make some noise in the industry, regardless of any political bent. Over time, for Nike, we think the power of the messaging from this new broader campaign is apt to overshadow any potential backlash, near term, in our view.”

This is a major campaign for Nike — its “Just Do It” 30th-anniversary campaign.

Consumers not only talking but buying — exactly what a successful ad campaign is supposed to do.

“Whether the sales bump was attributable to Kaepernick or the massive free media that Nike received (or both) is not entirely clear. However, an analysis provided to Bloomberg by Apex Marketing Group estimated that the free exposure was the equivalent of a $43 million media buy.

Some analysts expressed cynicism about Nike’s motives, saying that Nike has always courted controversy. However it still appears to have been a risk — that paid off. While Nike is not the first brand to take social and political positions, the question now is whether other brands will follow Nike’s lead and risk alienating some fans and buyers,” Marketing Land concluded.