Bolder Thinking Blog

Nike says “Don’t Do It”

June 12th, 2020 | Diana Kelter

Following nationwide protests demanding racial justice, Nike put a new spin on its well-known ‘Just Do It’ slogan by releasing an anti-racism advertisement.  

The advertisement received widespread praise and on Instagram alone, the post has received more than 15 million views as of June 5th, 2020. However, that praise hasn’t come without criticism and others have said the advertisement doesn’t do enough to create tangible change. 

Why it matters 

Nike isn’t a new player in the discussion of social injustice. In 2018 it released a bold advertisement in support of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. It could easily be assumed that this early action provided Nike with a halo effect and that it was the essence of what a moral brand looks like. However, what’s clear is that brands rarely gain the title of being a moral brand from one action, but rather from sustained action. Looking outside of Nike, it’s hard to think about Ben & Jerry’s without considering the brand’s sustained activism that has become part of its persona.

It’s undeniable that Nike is a clear leader in brand activism, but being an early leader doesn’t make a brand exempt from continued efforts both internally and externally. The bold message and the risk to take a stand when other brands are silent are critical for awareness, and for that Nike sets a strong standard. However, the work can’t end there and it will be the everyday actions that exist between the bold statements where consumers will be evaluating their loyalty. 

What’s next?

For all brands, whether this is the first time they are taking a stand or they’re building on a history of brand activism, the tangible actions are where consumers will be focusing. Mintel’s Trend Driver ‘Rights’ highlights that consumers will demand stronger ethics and greater equality – from each other and from brands. Similar to individual consumers reflecting on their past actions and where they still need to learn, consumers are looking to the brands and companies they engage with to do the same reflection. For brands the bridge between short-term announcements and long-term action plans is intertwined and brands need to take note of both.

Diana Kelter

Diana Kelter

Diana is a Senior Trend Analyst at Mintel. She investigates how cultural, lifestyle and technology shifts take shape across sectors.