Last week Nike released one of its first images for its 30th anniversary commemorative campaign. The image with Colin Kaepernick’s face and the words: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything, they were enough to spark buzz across all platforms and channels.
It’s been a little over two years since Colin Kaepernick, then quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee at a game during the National Anthem to protest police brutality toward communities of color. This fact made him a point of reference for other players, being typified by various sectors as a controversial athlete.
Conservative-leaning NFL owners and their huge legion of fans quickly escalated his action to crisis levels. After leaving the 49ers, no other team in the league signed him. An owner of one of the teams confessed not to offer a contract after President Donald Trump called on the NFL to fire players who knelt during the national anthem.
Nike states that the “campaign celebrates some of today’s most inspiring athletes who have pursued dreams no matter the obstacle or outcome.” The campaign also features Odell Beckham Jr and Serena Williams.
In a society like the Dominican, very few Colins should survive, because daring to sacrifice #elmoro or popularity in defense of his principles is underappreciated. Similarly, brands avoid engaging with controversial issues or taking stances on political issues.
Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick in its campaign is part of a larger trend: Since the US presidential election in 2016, brands, once terrified of controversy, are more likely to enter the realm of politics. There has never been a more popular time to be a brand with an opinion and a voice.
Nike became Nike because it built on the idea of rebellion. With this campaign, it demonstrates, once again, that it is worth taking risks and taking firm positions on social issues that concern customers.
We can question how loyal we are to our causes, figures or issues in controversial situations. Are we willing to brave the scandal, the public scrutiny, and the social media firestorm to stand behind what we think is right, even if it doesn’t go along with what the pack thinks?
You don’t have to have every brand take a position on every issue, but there are opportunities for your brand voice to be heard and to reap the benefits of being heard.
Autor: Lara Guerrero