There’s no denying that the landscape of branding has changed; brands aren’t just pushing their goods and services anymore. They have ideas and opinions about the goings on in society, they lead conversations, they are pioneers of change and some people have come to look to their favourite brands for guidance when forming an opinion on an issue. Brands have power and a clear voice and some brands aren’t afraid to use that voice even if it upsets their customers. A brand that continues to have a strong voice in their communications is Nike.
Nailing it: Nike, #JustDoIt Campaign
On September 3, Collin Kaepernick posted an image on his Twitter account; the image was a black and white portrait of Collin Kaepernick with the words, “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything” written across it. The image announced Collin Kaepernick’s involvement in Nikes’ 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign. The image elicited strong reactions from people for and against Collin Kaepernicks’ inclusion in the campaign.
The campaign also includes tennis giant Serena Williams, Lebron James (basketball), Lacey Baker (skateboarding), Odell Beckham Jnr. (American football) and Shaquiem Griffin (American football). The portraits of the athletes were followed by a powerful video, voiced by Collin Kaepernick. The advert is a powerful statement that speaks about inclusivity, diversity, following your dreams and going beyond your best. It’s inspiring, beautifully made and solidified Nike as a brand that’s willing to take a stand.
Missing the mark: Nike and Adidas
Nike brand ambassador, sports star Cristiano Ronaldo was recently accused of rape. Ronaldo has a billion dollar deal with Nike and is one of 3 athletes to have a lifetime deal with the sports apparel titans. Nike has responded to allegations in a statement, saying they are “deeply concerned” and are “closely monitoring the situation”. Now I don’t what’s the best/right course of action in a situation like this since Ronaldo hasn’t been declared guilty or innocent by the court of law. But I expected a less generic response from Nike, especially after their Just Do It campaign.
Adidas is another brand that has strongly associated itself with inclusivity (especially the inclusion of women, the LGBTQ+ community and marginalized cultures and religions), diversity… and Kanye West. West is behind the Adidas boost line Yeezy. He’s known for his music, monologues, clothing line and more recently, his vehement support of Donald Trump. West also stated in an interview with TMZ that he believes that “slavery sounds like a choice” and 2 weeks ago, West posted a picture of himself wearing a Make America Great Again cap and calling for the abolishment of the 13th Amendment (the law that freed slaves in America). It’s interesting that Adidas continues their relationship with Kanye West who has associated himself people and ideals that are in direct opposition to everything that Adidas stands for. They must have a reason for keeping this relationship going and it’s probably one with a lot of zeros.
The point that I’m trying to make is that Nike and Adidas are both giants in the space that they occupy and they have made very strong stances against oppression in all its forms, they have chosen to stand for diversity and inclusivity and they can’t choose to do it only when it makes sense profit wise. But let’s see where this goes as things continue to unfold, who knows, they might surprise.