Quick background for non-marketers. Nike has always been a marketing powerhouse. They created a lot of what we know as sports marketing, and together with Gatorade (that I proudly was part of the team building history) changed the role, the science and the aesthetics of sports forever. Nike made us dream about high performance and tried to push us to achieve it. Just do It. It also made a significant impact on street fashion and sport chic and left Reebok behind in the dust. Nike was behind elite athletes like Michael Jordan, Rafael Nadal, and Ronaldo, and they made us all dream of becoming one of them. Nike pioneered the creation of unforgettable shopping experiences boosted by very compelling ads.
In 1996, the company who led manufacturing outsourcing innovation to its industry was caught in a scandal involving child labor in plants outside the US. The 2000s were challenging years with Phil Knight stepping down as CEO. Nike international expansion was very successful, but the marketing formula started to get tired, and competitors were catching up. The company had to reinvent itself to survive. It took full control of the production process, becoming one of the first highly sustainable companies on the planet. We could see the company revamping its product line, introducing new technologies, and creating fashion. But for most of us who knows Nike from the glory days, there was something still missing - great marketing.
GREAT MARKETING STARTS WITH PURPOSE
If you want to sell to millennials and Zers, you need to prove you deserve it. Undoubtedly, Nike standing with Kaepernick was an eye opener for many of us. Jay Connor from The Root wrote "Republicans have been big mad since Nike decided to pull its Betsy Ross-inspired Air Max 1 USA sneakers. But it turns out that being on the right side of history just netted the footwear and apparel company a cool $3 billion in market value." Nike was then living by its purpose statement - "We're committed to creating a better, more sustainable future for our people, planet and communities through the power of sport." This month, by the end of the Women's Soccer Worldcup final game, Nike aired an epic ad with the last message being "This team wins, Everyone wins." Nike was again siding with Rapinoe and the team of activists fighting for a more equitable society. And that is only the beginning. Inspired by the power of a meaningful purpose, every Nike team across nations are looking for ways to create a better future - check the case of Cande, an eight years old girl in Argentina and what the local team did... real impact. Leveraging top female athletes from Argentina's national team, they were able to create a female soccer league that will keep Cande and thousands of girls playing competitively from now on - a societal change. Nike is moving ahead of the pack by creating real change and siding with real causes. They might lose few consumers on one end of the political spectrum, but win the loyalty of millions of others.
GREAT MARKETING, GREAT RESULTS
In the last five years, Nike stock price has increased 126.8% while the DOW JONES index grew 59.8% (as of 07/12/19).
Nike Scored 100 on Annual Corporate Equality Index 2019 (CEI), earning the company the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality. And that was the 17th year receiving this honor.
In Glassdoor, Mark G, Parker CEO, has a 91% approval rate (same as Apple's Tim Cook) and the company overall 3.9 stars (Apple gets a 4.0).
It is both rewarding and lucrative to have and express your opinions.
Again, I see consumers wearing the swoosh logo with pride and respect, and portraying the right sentiment of contributing to the right causes. Those were firm steps towards Marketing greatness, an example to so many companies over the fence.
We all know "Purpose" is what drives the modern consumer. Most of Corporate America has adopted it on their marketing strategy throughout the last decade. Sadly, we have seen so many companies printing beautiful mission statements and fall short in every decision made afterward. CEOs trying not to expose themselves even when they must defend their customers and employees, all in favor of protecting their bottom line and conversely, their jobs. CMOs opportunistically trying to surf the last trend, making desperate campaigns to advance brand perception without real action.
But consumers are every time more conscious of their influence as shoppers. Retail numbers show the growth of sustainable products, in all its levels - environmentally viable, equitable, and economically viable. To survive, corporations need to put their pockets where their mouths are. At this point, I need to state the obvious - as more corporate money pours in the right buckets through lobbying and advocacy, the more political ruling will be made in favor of you and me, and a sustainable and fair world.
To all of us, the task is simple. Use our dollars wisely and vote conscientiously. I side with Nike.