“A Great Big Win for Nike”

Published on September 7, 2018

Tim Riester on Nike’s Colin Kaepernick Commercial

Tim Riester joined Scott Pasmore on 3TV Good Morning Arizona on Friday, September 7, 2018, to discuss the implications of Nike’s Latest “Just Do It” campaign featuring controversial athlete Colin Kaepernick.

Here’s the full Nike commercial if you have not yet seen it.

Colin Kaepernick gained national attention in 2016 as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback when he sat—then later knelt—during the national anthem before football games. His motivation was to protest racial inequality in America.

During the 3TV interview, Scott started off by asking Tim if this ad was a good move for the company.

Tim explained that, “for Nike, this is a great big win.”

Why?

Because of how it connects with their core customer.

Tim: “Nike’s customer base is under 35 years of age. More than two-thirds of the people purchasing their products are from the Millennial Generation and Generation Z, and when you look at that population of the United States, it’s more diverse. It’s more multicultural than any previous generation in history, so this message and cause is really speaking directly to the heart and soul of that customer base.

The people who don’t like this message tend to be older people from a different time. One of the key benefits of branding is finding a way to connect to the heart and soul of your consumer, and Nike has done that here.”

Scott: “What about the fact the stock took a hit the next day?”

Tim: “Most shareholders tend to be older, but those shareholders will respond when they see the purchasing activity of the target audience. You’ll see that stock bounce back very quickly.”

Scott: “I’m sure when the execs at Nike and their advertisers sat down and thought about doing this ad, they probably knew what was going to happen.

Tim: “This was heavily researched in advance. We also must consider Nike’s a global brand, so people outside of the United States aren’t as concerned about somebody kneeling during the national anthem of the United States of America. It’s not their country.

But the press is global. Press that happens, culture that happens in the United States permeates across the entire globe. I think customers will respond to that—younger customers. You see a more social responsibility happening. People say this is a patriotic issue, because to the older generations, respect for the flag is number one. To the younger generation, this is also a patriotic issue because to them, their country is a more inclusive place. So it really hits home with the people it needs to attract.

Nike has a history of doing this. We’ll remember here in Phoenix when Charles Barkley did an ad for Nike saying, ‘I’m not a role model,’ and at the time that was very controversial. So Nike for their 30th anniversary is sticking very true to the history of their brand, ‘Just Do It.’”

Scott: “So when most of us want to steer clear of any controversy because it stings, advertisers are like, ‘Let’s hit it head on then, right?’”

Tim: “You have to be courageous. If you don’t stand for something in the minds of your core consumer, then you stand for nothing and you don’t succeed.”

Scott: “I’m sure you guys discuss this a lot since its been hitting the airwaves?”

Tim: “Absolutely. It’s interesting to see in our own office because we have multi-generations. We’ve been in business 30 years at RIESTER, so we have people who are very offended by this and people who are really embracing it, but everyone from our industry seems to understand that this was the right thing for Nike to do.”

Scott: “The fact is, it seems like the whole world is talking about Nike right now.”

Tim: “And that’s what they wanted.”