The collaboration between Nike and Colin Kaepernick turned out to be a golden communication wedding. Indeed, after sealing the contract with the athlete, Nike saw its sales increase by 31%. Even if they fell slightly (3%) in the wake of the Karpernick kneeling scandal, they rose back up quickly and got through the roof when the collaboration was announced.
Analysts even predict a rising future for Nike in the stock market thanks to it. Trump’s threats and the #BoycottNike hashtag did not have any impact.
Active and continuous process
Through this story, Nike gives us an important lesson about communication: building your reputation is an active and ongoing process. As an organisation, it is about recognising the opportunities without being blindsided by the fear of negative reactions, like on SoMe, to reassert its positioning.
Proactive management of your reputation involves taking a stand, sharing your vision and playing your part in the social debate. Let’s do it!
“If you want to bring people together, you have to chose their side.”
The future is choosing
Peter Verlegh, marketing professor at the University of Amsterdam, explains in detail why Nike’s choice has been so richly rewarded: “If you want to bring people together, you have to pick their side. Before, people chose a brand because they made the best shoes. Today, everyone makes good shoes and innovations are copied in no time. It is therefore necessary for a company to communicate with its target audience on a different level: it is now time to help them make choices.
How? By creating a special link between them and you. You can do this by choosing their side on a social topic or controversy, and thus represent a certain vision, a certain set of values, and acquire a real personality as a brand applying them. Now, buying a brand means something more.”
Taking a stand, but reasonably.
Note: it is not about giving one’s opinion on all and any social matter. Here, it is significant that Nike concluded the contract with Kaepernick two full years after the kneeling “incident” and the subsequents protests. Verlegh suspects that Nike took a stand only after witnessing half of the youth publicly support Kaepernick, while only 10% opposed it.
Nike demonstrates that, by analysing social contexts and related datas, you can measure and forecast the results of your communication strategy and then adjust it to keep the control over your reputation.