- Getty/Justin Sullivan
- Nike this week made the controversial former NFL player Colin Kaepernick the face of its new “Just Do It” ad campaign.
- The move has had its fair share of critics, including some who have called for a boycott of Nike, while others have praised the ad.
- However, a survey evaluating consumer sentiment of Nike found that it had declined in the time since the ad was released.
Nike took a risk this week with its new ad narrated by Colin Kaepernick, and the reaction in the immediate aftermath has been decidedly mixed, with somewhat conflicting messages about how it might affect the brand in the long run.
The ads, which made the former NFL player the face of Nike’s new “Just Do It” campaign, lit a firestorm on social media. Observers noted Nike’s risk in releasing the polarizing ad, and some critics have called for a boycott of the brand.
Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem before games in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Critics saw the protest as disrespectful to the military, with President Donald Trump calling for players who protested during the anthem to be fired.
Nike’s favorability among customers may be taking a hit, at least according to one of the first polls to measure consumer sentiment in the immediate aftermath of the ad.
In surveys of more than 8,000 US adults – about 1,700 conducted before the ad’s launch and the rest after – the polling company Morning Consult found that net favorability of Nike had dropped by 34 points overall, to 35 from 69 before the ad’s release.
Morning Consult constantly monitors brand reputation and could compare the results of its surveys conducted before and after the ad made headlines. Brands can score on a scale of -100 to 100.
Among those who identified as Nike customers, net favorability dropped 15 points, to 76 from 91 before the ad launched. Favorability also dropped among those surveyed who are in Nike’s core demographic of Gen Zers and millennials. The only group that Morning Consult found had a net unfavorable rating for Nike – dropping from a net positive 75 points before the ad’s release – were respondents who identified as Republicans.
Purchasing consideration also fell, with 39% of all adults surveyed saying they were either likely or very likely to buy Nike products, a decrease from 49% before the ad’s release. The percentage of adults who said they were not likely to buy Nike products doubled, to 29% from 13%.
Separately, an analysis by Tickertags, a company that tracks the frequency of keywords on social media, found that mentions of “boycott” in conjunction with Nike were falling. That suggests that customers may be angry enough to respond when asked directly about Nike, but not enough to make noise about it online.
Customer sentiment is difficult to measure, especially in the immediate aftermath of a controversy. Whether customers will actually do what they say they intend to do or their anger quickly fizzles out isn’t easily determined.
Read more about Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad:
- Trump says Nike is ‘getting absolutely killed’ over its Colin Kaepernick ad, but the boycott movement may already be dying
- Nike has released its commercial starring Colin Kaepernick – as well as Serena Williams and LeBron James – after being trashed by Trump
- Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad doesn’t show him doing what made him controversial, and it’s a brilliant strategic move
- People are threatening to boycott Nike and buy Adidas and New Balance in response to a new ad starring Colin Kaepernick
- Nike ignited a firestorm of fury with its new Colin Kaepernick ad, but it’s still a brilliant strategy
- People are destroying their Nike shoes and socks to protest Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign
- Trump says Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick sends ‘a terrible message’
- Trump says Nike pays ‘a lot of rent’ in an interview about the new Colin Kaepernick ad
- Nike’s polarizing new Colin Kaepernick ad shows it can succeed where Starbucks and Target failed
- The NFL released a statement backing players protesting social issues, including Colin Kaepernick
- ‘Few companies can afford to anger that many consumers and survive’: Branding experts say Nike may have gotten exactly what it wanted with its controversial new Colin Kaepernick ad