Dear Nike: Buzz does not equal sales

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  • Investors are so angry at Nike that their stock stock dropped yesterday by three percent, and customers are ripping swooshes from their shirts and shoes and boycotting further purchases thereof.
  • It’s not a great idea for a multibillion corporation, who sells sporting goods, to take a hard line political stance on anything. Splitting the market to support a political cause is not and never really has been a good move, as far as revenue goes.
  • For all the talk of encouraging the conversation online, social media buzz does not appear to translate into short-term revenue gains.

According to AdWeek, there was a 10 percent drop in TV viewers in 2017, and make-goods — free ad time networks give to advertisers to compensate for TV audiences smaller than promised — accounted for 23 percent of units in 2017, up from 21 percent in the 2016 season.

Some Einstein decided to embellish this group of distinguished athletes with the visage of a polarizing former quarterback, Kaepernick, now known more for protesting than throwing touchdowns .

The plan: Alienate customers with the face of a guy who personifies disrespecting cops and the National Anthem. Why, that’s brilliant!

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Sure Kaepernick has a first amendment right to kneel but that’s doesn’t mean that fans have to agree with him.

Sacrificing? Everything? This is pure virtue-signaling.

Kaepernick has been on paid contract with Nike since 2011. Also, he’s suing the NFL for colluding to keep him out of the league, even though some teams, like the Seattle Seahawks, have let him try out.

Fact: He quit the 49ers, mid-contract, leaving tens of millions on the table, and then made himself an objectionable pariah whom nobody wants.

But, by being a phony victim, Kaepernick has won awards! Amnesty International’s “Ambassador of Conscience Award.” The Eason Monroe “Courageous Advocate Award.” Sports Illustrated’s “Muhammed Ali Legacy Award.”

That said, did Kaepernick really sacrifice “everything,” as the advertising says?

He has sacrificed virtually nothing in his political activism. Even if he never started the vapid kneeling during the national anthem gesture, he would have been cut by the San Francisco 49ers following the 2016 NFL season anyways.

He went 1–10 as a starter in 2016, benched twice in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick posted a 49.3 QBR (ranked 23rd of 30 qualified NFL quarterbacks) and fumbled nine times (which means he was on pace to fumble 13 times had he started all 16 games). He was about to enter his fourth season in a seven-year $126 million contract; there was no way San Francisco was going to continue paying him all that money to continue losing football games. Instead, he opted out of his deal.

So why is Nike doing it? It’s clearly for the attention. The news blew up as soon as it was released because Kaepernick is a polarizing figure who gets a lot of press. In all likelihood, it will not be a good move long-term for Nike to pick sides in the culture war, but they are getting quite a bit of free advertising in the short run but in the end if won’t move sales and that’s why buzz doesn’t equal sales.

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Originally published at www.newmediaandmarketing.com on September 5, 2018.

Marketing contrarian with over 15 years of developing leading edge and award winning digital marketing initiatives.

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