Nike and Social Issues in their Advertisements

by Bella Gonzalez, Daniel Harbaugh, and Bailey Nolting (Group 1)

The Fast Company published an article on July 24th, 2021 titled, “How Nike made taking a stand on social issues part of its marketing“.

Nike has been a prominent brand in sportswear for many years. The brand has used many big athletes to garner sales. However, now it’s using many of these athletes to speak out on social issues the company is passionate about. 

Nike has been outspoken about racism, police brutality, gender equality, the pay gap between men’s and women’s sports, and LGBTQ+ rights. The company first began to speak out against systemic racism and police brutality in 2018. The campaign featured multiple advertisements with NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was one of the first players to kneel during the National Anthem. This was to protest police brutality.

As a result, the ads with Kaepernick saw backlash from media and consumers. In an interview with Fast Company, CEO and Founder Phil Knight said “it doesn’t matter how many people hate your brand as long as enough people love it”. This was in response to the company’s choice to speak out on the values the company holds.

Currently, Nike continues to speak put on issues that the company feels strongly about without fears of losing consumers. The company stands by the positions they are taking and wants to continue to work to better society by speaking openly on such issues.

Nike strives to speak out on causes they are passionate about. They have learned that by vocalizing the causes they are passionate about, more people want to support their products.

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2 Responses to Nike and Social Issues in their Advertisements

  1. Isabella, Daniel, Bailey says:

    I recently read an article on Forbes that discussed Nike’s advertisement relating to Colin Kaepernick. The ad specifically said ““Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This was such a firm stance that Nike took in this ad showing that they explicitly supported Kaepernick in what he did. The issue of racial injustice created a very divided nation. Although Nike took a good amount of opposition for the ad, Forbes stated that Nike’s sales rose by 31% after the ad was released. This just shows how powerful advertisements are. They make a direct influence on consumers and can show them the values your company has. I think it is very admirable that Nike takes a stance on social issues even though it can mean that they lose customers. It should be more important for the company to stand up for what they believe in regardless of what other people might say.

  2. Isabella, Daniel, Bailey says:

    Response to Nike being ethical

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/nike-investors-wont-force-company-to-show-results-of-diversity-efforts-11633550100

    I found an article on marketwatch.com that detailed a situation between Nike and their shareholders/investors. On October 6th, Nike asked their investors to vote against the company having to share results on their diversity efforts. Nike has made it evident to use their platform to shine a light on social issues in America, particularly during these past few hours. Annually, the company’s board evaluates the progress of Nike’s DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), and programs that protect the rights of their employees. According to the article, “The company said in its proxy that it is already doing enough to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the company” (marketwatch). To me, this sounds like Nike could be covering up information about their company; in particular, the treatment of their employees. For example, this article includes that Nike has had events in the past where there has been sexual harassment in the workplace and have been accused of by a Olympic track star of being unsupportive of new mothers and pregnant athletes. From this article and examples within the article, I believe that Nike has a Functional Obligation towards their business. There is evidence of Nike valuing revenue over moral ethics, making business the priority for the company. Nike is very outspoken organization about social and racial issues that is prominent in the U.S, but there is still not enough data that proves their dedication towards these issues.

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