How to Take Calculated Risks: Lessons from Nike

A few weeks ago, Nike unveiled a new Just Do It campaign, starring football player turned activist, Colin Kaepernick. The move was controversial to detractors of the Black Lives Matter movementnt. These called for a boycott of Nike products- to the extent of burning their shoes. However, Nike’s decision was calculated. Bloomberg reports that following a short-lived dip, Nike stocks closed at an all-time high a week later, on Thursday 13th September 2018. There are a few lessons that brands in Zimbabwe can learn from Nike in order to take calculated risks that strengthen brand reputation:


Know who you are as a brand.

Nike know who they are and what the brand stands for. They understand how their market is segmented and who makes up their audience. Before implementing any campaign that might be controversial, consider the psychographics of your audience. Think about your stakeholders, and how your message will be perceived. In this way, you can assess what proportion of your audience will react positively versus negatively. You can then also decide whether a campaign would result in reputational damage or a crisis before you implement anything.

Partner with the right influencers.

Nike’s partnership with Colin Kaepernick was not a stab in the dark. The brand understood the influencer, and saw the commonalities that made him an appropriate fit. Just because a particular message or partnership may be controversial to some, does not necessarily mean that it’s a mistake. It may not result in reputational damage either. Always thoroughly assess the opportunity when engaging in influencer marketing and ensure the influencer’s platform feels natural for the brand. In this way, should any controversy arise, your brand has a strong foundation to stand behind the partnership and actually strengthen its reputation.


Watch out for new opportunities.

When angry customers started burning Nike merchandise, Nike released a statement about fire safety as well as a new design for tennis shoes that look like they’re on fire. Your brand being the topic of the day, even controversially, can open up new ways for you to reach your target audience. There may have been controversy, but Nike was able to both boost sales and position itself as a brand that cares about social justice. Once the spotlight is on your brand, find a way to run with that attention for your own benefit.


What are your thoughts on the Nike campaign? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.

Stephanie Taderera is a Content Executive at Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants. For more information and business enquiries, contact us today.

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