Nike’s ‘For Once, Don’t Do It’ ad seen as empowering, exploitative: study

Dive Brief:

  • Nike’s “For Once, Don’t Do It” ad was perceived as empowering by 60% of respondents in a recent Ace Metrix study shared with Marketing Dive. The spot, released on May 29, serves as the company’s response to George Floyd’s murder and subsequent protests around the world.
  • The ad found that the general population of consumers ages 16 to 49 perceived the spot as more empowering than 98% of all other ads. However, it also saw a higher “exploit” signal than either of its 2018 ads starring Colin Kaepernick. Consumers that found the new ad exploitive were not against the message, but rather, they said they didn’t want to see a corporation taking advantage of the situation to sell shoes. ​
  • Similar to the Kaepernick spots, which faced backlash online but were found to be less polarizing than social media suggested, the new ad scored positively for purchase intent and generated lower negative purchase intent, signaling that people were unlikely to boycott Nike this time around, per Ace Metrix.

Dive Insight:

Ace Metrix’s research suggests that consumers are connecting to ads that take a more direct stand against injustices —​ in Nike’s latest case, racism and police brutality — and that doing so empowers viewers. Nike released the 60-second “For Once, Don’t Do It”​ last week using the hashtag #UntilWeAllWin. The message resonated so strongly that rival brand Adidas retweeted the message, extending its reach to a greater pool of consumers.

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For years, Nike has taken a position through its marketing in support of the growing number of people around the country angered by police brutality. For the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign in 2018, the brand worked with Colin Kaepernick. The former quarterback was a divisive choice for the face of the campaign because he rose to prominence for protesting police brutality by “taking a knee” during the National Anthem at a game, an action that drew large groups of both supports and detractors.

The Kaepernick campaign drew controversy for Nike with some consumers reacting negatively and viewing the efforts as polarizing. However, Nike’s new “For Once, Don’t Do It“​ spot appears to be less controversial, Ace Metrix’s study suggests. Most respondents who viewed the ad negatively reported disliking Nike’s using the message of supporting racial justice as a means to sell shoes. The ad comes as consumers are increasingly demanding brands take the lead on putting people before profits.​

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