Taking A stand? Just Do It…Maybe

Taking A stand? Just Do It…Maybe
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post, creative and strategy director at WE Buchan, David Coupland (pictured below), takes a look at the fallout from Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign and says what it also does is show the importance brands now play in our lives…

Nike’s decision to feature Colin Kaepernick as the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign has ignited a worldwide debate: ‘should brands take a stand?’ This debate has entered the mainstream and become memetic, spilling across the globe, funding hours of TV debate, online chatroom disputes, social posts and watercooler chat (I’d suggest that nowhere more so than in communications agencies).

0

However, the campaign itself didn’t surprise me, rather the ongoing intensity of the debate. Given the steady shift in our culture where consumers are increasingly demonstrating their preference for brands to stand for something bigger than simply producing products, why has this campaign been so shocking?

Yes, Nike selected the face of a rightly contentious and sensitive issue (racial inequality) within the context of a particularly divided society (the US) led by a contentious celebrity president, but this isn’t new from Nike who has championed contentious issues in the US before. In fact, this tactic is baked-in to Nike’s original principles drafted by the late Rob Strasser, Nike’s first head of marketing, in which he declared: “This is as much about battle as about business”, “It won’t be pretty” and “If we do things right we’ll make money damn right automatic.”

Quite.

What has surprised me, is how this campaign demonstrates the complex role that brands now play in our lives, and how reliant we have become on our favourite brands to provide stability in an increasingly turbulent world. The geopolitical landscape, hidden recession and changing social and racial landscapes may scare me, but at least I know my Nike shoes will make me look cool or provide me with support as I run; I can at least rely on that!

And so, for many people, their reaction to Nike’s campaign was more akin to trauma, or hurt, than it was a reaction to political offense. It was like hearing a beloved friend say something you didn’t want to hear. And as such, reactions were based on passion, not reason, creating a polarised response. Some ripped the ‘swoosh’ off their socks and burnt their trainers; others wore their Nike jersey’s as a statement-uniform.

So as communicators, how do we make sense of this? What can we learn from this reaction? Well, our recent Brands in Motion study of 27,000 consumers across eight markets identified that more than ever, our relationships with brands is increasingly fluid. A majority in six of the eight markets we surveyed said they prefer to support brands that strike a balance between functionality and purpose — brands, in other words, that know what they stand for, and act like it.

We also found 72 per cent of Australians want brands to take a stand on important issues (up four points since 2017). If an issue important to your customers becomes a topic of national conversation and a brand sits on the sidelines, you’d better believe that those customers will notice.

As such, consumers’ relationship with brands is delicate; love you today, shame you tomorrow. If a brand oversteps or underperforms on their emotional and rational duty, their consumers will happily shame them. Conversely, if a brand behaves as we expect, and takes stand on issues we identify with, their consumers will shower them with love and support.

This means the expected notion of traditional consumer loyalty, or brand positioning, is evolving. We must work harder to earn and retain customers love, be more agile and competitive in our insights, and be prepared to counsel clients on why it’s important to stick to a core belief even when the repercussion may offend those who do not agree.

Which brings me back to Nike.

It wasn’t surprising that they took a stand on a contentious issue, but more so that they did knowing they would lose the support of customers who disagreed. But then again, who would they be if they didn’t believe in something at the risk of sacrificing everything. They just did it.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Colin Kaepernick David Coupland Nike we buchan

Latest News

HEADS UP: Entries For B&T’s Best Of The Best Awards Close This Week!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Technology

HEADS UP: Entries For B&T’s Best Of The Best Awards Close This Week!

Okay, people. It’s time to take us seriously when we say that entries for B&T’s Best of the Best awards close this Friday! The day we’ve been warning you about for weeks is here, and it’s time to get your act together. Head on over HERE and start your submission. On-time entries for Best of the Best will be […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Witchery Partners With GlamCorner To Boost Subscription Shopping
  • Media

Witchery Partners With GlamCorner To Boost Subscription Shopping

Australian fashion brand Witchery has partnered with B Corp GlamCorner as part of GlamCorner’s subscription box offering as the demand for everyday essentials soars. This partnership marks another milestone for the Australian fashion industry towards becoming more circular and introducing more paths to reduce textile waste. Customers nationally will be able to rent more of […]

Curry Club For COVID-19 Relief, Powered By UnLtd, Challenges AdLand To Raise $100,000
  • Marketing
  • Media

Curry Club For COVID-19 Relief, Powered By UnLtd, Challenges AdLand To Raise $100,000

The media, marketing and creative industries are being encouraged to host their own ‘Curry Club for COVID’ before 30th June to help meet the ambitious $100k target set by its organisers. Curry Club for COVID, which was conceived by long-time adtech executive Peter Bray, sales director at Impact, and is powered by industry social purpose organisation […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
UnLtd’s ‘Goals for Good’ Soccer Tournament Celebrates 10 Years
  • Media

UnLtd’s ‘Goals for Good’ Soccer Tournament Celebrates 10 Years

The UnLtd Cup is returning for its tenth consecutive year, marking a decade of soccer shenanigans that’s raised nearly $500,000 for children’s mental health charity, KidsXpress. On July 22-23rd, 28 teams from across the industry will battle it out on the soccer field in the two-day tournament at Sydney University Sports and Fitness Centre, Darlington. […]

Mobile Pnone Shopping Online With A Debit Card
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Ultra Commerce Acquires Vesta eCommerce

Australian-bred company Ultra Commerce has acquired New Zealand-based company Vesta eCommerce, a global software business providing leading product data management solutions. The recent acquisition is a significant move for the business, which is Australian born, owned, and headquartered, but has built out a global presence as it pursues rapid growth in the eCommerce market. Connecting […]

Crater Teams Up With Director Luna Laure For ‘Harry’s Story’, Canteen’s Newest Campaign
  • Campaigns

Crater Teams Up With Director Luna Laure For ‘Harry’s Story’, Canteen’s Newest Campaign

Canteen’s latest campaign features the combined talents of Director Luna Laure and creative agency Crater. The campaign strives to raise awareness for young people affected by cancer. The awareness campaign centres around Harry Barentson, who at 12 years of age found out his pregnant mum had cancer. The campaign aims to bring awareness to Canteen’s […]

AFL Legend Kevin Sheedy Narrates ‘A Love Letter To Victoria’ Via Enthral Partners
  • Campaigns

AFL Legend Kevin Sheedy Narrates ‘A Love Letter To Victoria’ Via Enthral Partners

In partnership with storytelling agency Enthral, AFL star Kevin Sheedy has voiced a video ‘Love Letter to Victoria’ using visuals to showcase the state’s natural beauty and culture. Victoria has been hit with the worst of the coronavirus pandemic compared with any other Aussie state experiencing four lockdowns. Sheedy has partnered with Ethral to share […]

Telstra’s Belong Appoints Howatson + White For Strategy & Creative, Retains OMD For Media
  • Advertising

Telstra’s Belong Appoints Howatson + White For Strategy & Creative, Retains OMD For Media

Telstra’s lower-cost telco, Belong, has awarded its strategy and creative account to Howatson + White, and has reappointed OMD to its media buying account, after a competitive pitch process. Howatson + White will handle strategy, planning, creative and CRM, while former agency Clemenger will continue to have a relationship with Belong, managing PR and retail activation. […]