Love it or hate it, Nike is the champion of brand awareness.

Published in In The News, Op-Ed on September 05, 2018

By Bridget Johnston | Pattern89

Love it or hate it, Nike is the champion of brand awareness.

The Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick has only been live for less than 48 hours, and you are already aware of it.

You’ve seen people, both overjoyed and angry, on social media discussing it. It’s spawned several hashtags and grassroots campaigns over the course of a day. Pundits have taken to the airwaves to praise or criticize it, and the President denounced Kaepernick, as he has before.

The ad has received huge amounts of both backlash and support. And while Nike’s stock has dipped, this ad is ultimately a huge success. Why? Because you already know it, you’ve talked about it, and you understand their brand better than before.

The ad featuring Kaepernick is the ultimate awareness campaign. Building awareness is key to getting a larger pool of people interested in a product, before they consider purchasing it, then finally make the purchase. Posting this ad has spurred an international conversation, therefore putting all of us in Nike’s awareness section of their conversion funnel. At the end of the day, more people will buy Nike products because millions of us are more aware of the brand than we previously were.

It’s Reactive and Timely

Football season is almost here, and the discussion of kneeling as a form of protest against oppression of black Americans and people of color will be discussed again. Nike knows the conversation will come up, as other NFL athletes will likely be seen kneeling during the National Anthem, despite Kaepernick not being signed to a team.

Nike is capitalizing on the timeliness of this discussion. They’re creating its narrative this season, as well as reacting to its narrative from last season. This ad officially kickstarted the conversation for the NFL this year.

It Makes an Emotional Connection

The Kaepernick ad can be seen as a risky ad to run, knowing how emotionally invested in his protests people have been. Folks on both sides of the aisle have very strong opinions. People who love football and couldn’t care less about it have feelings about Kaepernick’s protests. It’s nearly universal to be opinionated here.

Not only does this ad spark emotion in nearly everyone who sees it, but it also establishes Nike’s stance on the issue. Because of this ad, everyone in the United States now knows Nike’s beliefs on this subject, and their values as a brand.

It Casts a Huge Brand Awareness Net

Whether you pledged to start wearing Nikes on every run, or you burned your newest pair in front of a camera, your participation in the conversation did exactly what marketing execs at Nike wanted– you talked about their campaign, and therefore increased its awareness.

The huge conversation around the Kaepernick ad, which can be seen on any website, social platform or news network, is only spreading further awareness for the Nike brand. Every American knows more about Nike’s brand than we all did just a couple of days ago, and that’s the ultimate success an awareness campaign can aim for.

When the dust settles from this campaign, we’ll all know Nike better. This is because we were all part of its conversation, and we are all in the awareness stage of their marketing funnel.

Their marketing department didn’t have to do the huge amount legwork to make the entire country aware of their brand… we all did. And we can all call that a win.