16 Jul 2024 18:31

Advertising & Marketing

Nike’s Colin Kaepernick Campaign: Secrets of Mobilisation Marketing

Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.”, has generated a lot of debate. Their stocks faced sell-off, the company lost 3.2% of its $130 Billion market value in a day, and was fiercely criticised by President Donald Trump. 

Yet, it was clearly a deliberate decision for Nike – after all, they surveyed roughly 2,000 viewers who “dial-tested” the video. So, what lessons can we draw for our own Mobilisation Marketing plans? 

Get 2.5% shoppers on your side

The CMO Council & Catalina Marketing did a year-long study of more than 1,300 brands and 54 million shoppers, it showed-up something surprising. Only 2.5% of consumers account for 80% of sales for the average package-goods brand. 

It extends to geostrategy as well. As Nike chief executive Mark Parker told investors last year, it was looking to just 12 global cities to drive 80% of its growth. 

The question is, which brand could mobilise this very focused base effectively – Adidas, Under Armour or Nike?  

The enclosed analysis by Morning Consult shows that the Nike commercial should help curry favor for the sportswear giant with younger consumers—Gen Z and Millennials, even as appearance of Kaepernick in the commercial clearly alienates the Baby Boomers and Gen X. 

Network of Influenced

Ironically, it is President Donald Trump who first exhibited power of the Network of Influenced. He stake out a position that infuriated one side but excited the other, who stood by his side despite the barrage of criticism against him. 

The bigger risk for a brand like Nike is becoming the mainstream brand. Becoming a brand that doesn’t stand for anything and no one stands up for it. 

As the Financial Times reports, polls show that support for Nike and Kaepernick is strongest among millennial or Gen-Z, African-American, liberal urbanites — the group Nike targets.

Kaepernick has 6 million followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. By Apex Marketing’s calculation, Nike generated exposure worth more than $163 million even before its television version of the Kaepernick ad aired on Thursday during the NFL season opening game. 

Connecting with a Cause

Studies show that consumers reward brands for speaking up on divisive social issues. Brands are picking this up to deepen their connection with targeted communities. Airbnb lent its voice to the Same Sex Marriage debate in Australia with its Acceptance Ring campaign. 

The campaign mobilised not just those within the LGBTQI+ community, but included those who wanted to make their support for a brother, sister, parent, friend or loved one known. Many brands joined the effort and in a subsequent voluntary postal survey, Australians changed their mind since the last poll. 61.6% of respondents supported same-sex marriage. Subsequently, the Australian parliament passed a law to legalise same-sex wedding. 

These are early days for the Nike Kaepernick campaign but sales trends support their Mobilisation Marketing strategy. Clearly, the Baby Boomers and Gen X traded down Nike shares. Yet, Edison Trends has reported that Nike sales grew 31% from Sunday through Tuesday over Labor Day this week, besting 2017’s comparative 17% increase. 

So, choose who you want to have on your side, and then go all out to show them that you are on their side! 


Written By Vivek Kumar, Honorary Chairman, Asia-Pacific Advisory Board, Global CMO Council 

(Visited 3 times, 1 visits today)