Malick Ba

Nike: On the Right Side of Change in Advertising

September 18, 2018

Advertising without purpose is simply boring. Without any meaning, what is the purpose? To sell someone something? What about changing the way that people think – or opening up a new line of sight that wasn’t there before? This year, Nike has proved to be more than just an athletic clothing/shoe brand. It’s been a couple of weeks since the Colin Kaepernick ad came out and it was an excellent display of bravery in advertising. But Malick, all they did was just piggy back off a pre-existing movement? That’s where I think you’re wrong.

I’m going to pause you right now because I know what you’re thinking: why is Nike the brave one? Shouldn’t we be focused on Kaepernick’s story? Absolutely – but that is for a different article. While I 100% think that we shouldn’t be thinking of the brand first in Kaepernick’s bravery, it’s hard to ignore that people were very upset because #BoycottNike was trending probably within minutes of the ad coming out. So obviously there is a group of people who are that ignorant. But focusing on the advertising side of things, Nike saw a great opportunity to be on the right side of history. People have compared Kaepernick’s actions to what Rosa parks had done in 1955 but the difference is that there probably weren’t a ton of brands as big as Nike backing up her actions.

Nike took a risk. They’re inevitably losing dollars due to this #BoycottNike protest that’s going on, but they did it anyways. Whether or not it’s supported by a business objective, they made the right move by jumping on an opportunity to promote equality not only in sports, but life in America as well. Being a black athlete in America (let alone in general) is tough. You’re expected to just shut up and not complain about injustices that you face in everyday life – which is extremely hard to be silenced about by the way. Nike making a choice to support this initiative despite the hatred for Kaepernick is commendable and a forward thinking move. Brands that don’t support this movement will only cater to a certain group of people and eventually get left off.

As a brand, it’s extremely important to know your audience and make these kinds of moves. It’s imperative to be a progressive brand especially in this day and age so you don’t slip up or make an ad that doesn’t sit right with the people who you want to consume your product (aka Pepsi). This was not an ad to sell shoes. This was an ad not to sell clothes. This was an ad to stand up for what is right – an ad with purpose.

Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. As an alumni of both the University of Ottawa and Humber College, Malick specializes in communications, advertising, and marketing. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in downtown Toronto and is looking forward to how he can further leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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