How Nike’s Business Level Strategy(Controversy) Made $100M

Nike is very well known for it’s astounding business level strategy. The buzz they create through their marketing strategy spreads like wildfire. One such example of this is the ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign.

“Dream Crazy”- Nike’s business strategy for the most controversial Ad campaign

Business level strategy
Nike’s marketing strategy- Aureol labs

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How did the campaign start

Just like the George Floyd case in 2020 which led to #blacklivesmatter campaign, America has been reporting several cases of police brutality against people of color since a log time.

Back in 2016, Colin Kaepernick started to kneel for the pre-game national anthem in protest at racial injustice in the United States.

This gesture took the “black lives matter” to another level. Millions of people started posting on social media. Some were in support while some against it.

This became such a raging issue that even the then President, Donald Trump had to tweet about it.

However within some time, Kaepernick was left unemployed with none of the 30 routines willing to sign in for 2017 season.

Related: Is Your Social Media As Marketing Strategy Really Working?

Soon enough, a large of number of protests started happening. People started protesting in their own ways.

As these protests became increasingly popular, on 3rd September, 2018, Nike launched the iconic “Dream Crazy” commercial.

And this commercial was presenting Colin Kaepernick with a slogan

‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.’

Within just a few hours, this commercial was trending on every single social media platform there is.

Within a few days, there were more than 2.7 million posts referring to the “Dream Crazy” ad.

This led to a massive social media outburst. So much so that people began posting about burning their Nike shoes.

The commercial led to hatred for the brand

Now, even though Nike stood up for a noble cause which should have resonated with a lot of people, why so much rage?

This can be explained by BIPOLARISATION.

Two groups people formed as a result of the commercial.

Group A- Supports for the minority of USA.

Group B- saw Kaepernick’s kneeling down during the anthem as an insult to the National flag of America and considered the whole thing as anti-national.

So by featuring Colin Kaepernick in the ad, Nike was seen as an anti-national brand by people in Group B.

These are the people who started #boycottNike trend on Twitter.

The Sentiment ratio of Nike dropped down from 90% positive to more then 60% negative.

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After all this hatred, Nike’s business strategy made them $100M. How?

This can be understood by this wonderful book Thinking fast and slow.

It basically tells ‘if you can resonate with the purpose of the opposite person, that person will automatically begin to trust you’.

This is exactly what Nike’s dream crazy campaign was about.

This campaign was a Purpose driven campaign. The purpose being the dignity, respect and the safety of the black minority in the United States.

All the people who resonated with it started sharing the video and the commercial became ‘viral’.

Although, it was looking like majority of the Americans are bashing the brand, this was not the case in reality.

Nike’s business strategy- Aureol labs

So clearly 43% of customers would have been able to relate and resonate with Nike’s campaign. The company’s business-level strategy turned out to be a huge success, both for people and the brand itself.

Nike’s reports even say that a major chunk of Nike’s white customers also supported the campaign. Even celebrities like Serena Williams, Lebron James also supported the campaign by sharing the commercial.

Lesson learn from this brilliant marketing strategy

Purpose driven marketing is the most powerful kind of marketing among the millennials and the gen-z.

Also, majority of the Nike’s customers fall between 18-34 years of age.

This whole campaign led Nike to become way more than just a shoe company. It became a brand which actually care about people and isn’t just about making money.

Nike’s sales reached an all time high and crossed $100M. The commercial was so sensational that they got publicity worth $163.5 Million for free. Can you imagine? They didn’t even have to depend on social media marketing. People did that for them.

The stock price rose by 36% and the market value by $6 Billion. This doesn’t end here. The company even won an Emmy for outstanding commercial at the Creative Arts Emmys.

So if you are an entrepreneur and want to take your business to the next level, invest in the kind of business level strategy which is purpose driven. Just mere discounts and offers do not attract this generation. You have to let them know how your brand benefits the society.
To learn more about Nike and how it became what it is today, give this book a read.