Still supporting Nike for Kaepernick?
And other companies whose social justice and politics influenced their customers
Writer’s note: This was a post from Chicago Now’s “Message from Montie” blog series published on September 5, 2018. After the recent controversy and accusations of antisemitism regarding Kanye West on “Drink Champs,” it still stands the test of time—and makes me side-eye Adidas.
There was a time in consumer history when a company could just tell you to buy something because it’s the best, the warmest, the coolest, the most comfortable, etc. It didn’t matter what the politics were behind the owner, the board, the employees, or even the consumers. It was just about getting that tangible item. But in today’s economy, things have changed.
According to a study by Edelman, younger customers are more likely to expect brands that they want to purchase from to stay updated on current events and tend to side with them on social justice issues. In other words, they’re “belief-driven buyers.”
So I’m not particularly surprised that Nike is getting so much neutral or positive coverage for hiring free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick as one of the new faces for the “Just Do It” campaign. (Nike’s demographic is two-thirds under the age of 35, according to The NPD Group, Inc., via Bloomber.)
Does time heal all consumers’ wounds?
Controversy puts eyes on the product. And sometimes it sells. However, Nike is not the first nor will it be the last sports apparel company to ruffle feathers. Just check out Adidas and Puma’s connection to Nazis and the peculiar decision to want African-American Olympic champion Jesse Owens to wear Adidas shoes in Germany, of all places. But how many of you knew the Nazi connection before you bought your last Adidas shirt or pair of pants?