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Nike’s controversial partnership not so polarizing after all?

BY Marianne Wilson

Nike Inc. appears to have dodged the bullet when it comes to featuring Colin Kaepernick in its new ad campaign—at least based on some early results.

According to advertising analytics company Ace Metrix, Nike’s partnership with Kaepernick in the ad “Dream Crazy” was well received by viewers, suggesting the social media backlash comes from a small minority. The polarity score for “Dream Crazy” fell within the 10th percentile of all ads, with a majority of the general population pop viewers finding the ad agreeable, Ace Metrix said.

“The fact the ad was less polarizing than average proves Nike pulled off quite a creative feat given the disagreement on both Kaepernick and the NFL kneeling controversy in this country,” said Peter Daboll, CEO, Ace Metrix. “Nike’s partnership with Kaepernick was highly strategic and they demonstrated a clear understanding of their target audience.”

“Dream Crazy” saw strong resonance among Gen Z and Millennial audiences (on average, Ace Scores were 33% above norm). Older viewers, those among Gen X, positively regarded the ad as well, but to a lesser degree than those younger than them. A few verbatim comments from viewers exhibited some distaste towards Colin Kaepernick’s role as spokesperson, with most coming from those ages 36-49.

Racial inequality is the driving force behind all the controversy that surrounds Kaepernick’s personal brand. African Americans, who rated the ad’s performance 42% above advertising norms, found the ad especially likeable (29% above norm) and relevant (33% above norm).

A look at Nike and Kaepernick trending on social media suggests consumers were outraged and ready to boycott. However, only 13% of survey respondents reported they were less likely to purchase from Nike after viewing the ad. That dropped to 10% among Millennials and just 6% among the Gen Z audience. On the other hand, 56% of general population viewers reported they were more likely to purchase, which is comparable to Nike’s recent, noncontroversial ad that pays tribute to Serena Williams.

“These results show once again that oftentimes, social media backlash can be amplified by media attention while representing only a small minority of haters,” Daboll said. “Most objections to such a polarizing figure as Kaepernick were tempered by the very strong likeability of that message across age, gender and ethnicity.”

The ad also received strong signals for “inspiring,” “powerful” and “love-it” emotions, demonstrating viewers’ positive regard towards the message and creative execution as a whole.

In related news, despite reported boycotts, Nike’s online sales actually rose in the days after the advertisement debuted.

Between the Sunday before Labor Day and the following Wednesday, product orders increased 27%, according to Edison Trends, reported CNBC. In the same period last year, product orders fell 2%.

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Walmart’s partnership with Ellen generating lots of attention

BY Marianne Wilson

An exclusive clothing collection developed in partnership between the nation’s larger retailer and one of its most popular celebrities is already paying off — and the goods haven’t even hit the stores yet.

Ever since Walmart announced plans to release a new clothing line in partnership with TV personality Ellen DeGeneres, the public’s general impression of the retailer has climbed to an all-time high, according to research from YouGov. (DeGeneres placed first on YouGov’s list of America’s most popular contemporary TV personalities.)

Also, as news of the partnership between Walmart and Ellen began spreading, so did talk of the retailer. Just-released numbers from YouGov’s Plan & Track platform show that:

• Following the announcement, which was made on Aug. 15, Walmart’s Impression score rose from 27 to 35, an all-time high since YouGov began tracking the retailer in 2008.

• The day of the announcement, Walmart’s “word of mouth” score, which asks U.S. adults if they recall discussing a specific brand with friends or family members in the past two weeks, was 35%. By August 28, however, it had increased to 40%.

• 24% of U.S. women who have a positive opinion of Ellen say they spend a lot on clothes, compared to 17% of U.S. women who have a negative view of the TV personality.

• 41% of women who like Ellen report keeping up to date with current fashion trends.

The exclusive collection, called EV1, is scheduled to hit store shelves on Sept. 10. It will feature nearly 60 items, including jeans, T-shirts, footwear and accessories, with each item selling for $30 or less.

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Levi Strauss takes a stand on controversial issue

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation’s most iconic denim brand has joined the growing ranks of retailers that are taking a stand on the issues of the day.

Levi Strauss & Co. is calling for stricter gun control laws and putting money behind the push. The company has established the Safer Tomorrow Fund, which will direct more than $1 million in philanthropic grants from the company during the next four years to nonprofits and youth activists who are working to end gun violence in America.

“You may wonder why a company that doesn’t manufacture or sell guns is wading into this issue, but for us, it’s simple,” Levi Strauss president and CEO—and former Army officer — Chip Bergh wrote in an op-ed posted on Fortune. “Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence. It’s an issue that affects all of us — all generations and all walks of life.”

The company is also partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety and executives including Michael Bloomberg to form a coalition of business leaders to work for change regarding the “gun violence epidemic in this country.”

“I encourage every CEO and business leader reading this to consider the impact we could make if we stood together alongside the broad coalition of concerned parents, youth, elders, veterans, and community and faith leaders who are committed to shaping a safer path forward,” Berg wrote.

Levi Strauss joins Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and Kroger Co. who previously waded into the issue following the school shooting in February at Parkland, Florida. Their responses were met with praise by gun control advocates and criticism from gun-rights advocates. Most recently, Nike ignited an Internet firestorm for a different issue — its decision to include former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick as one of the featured athletes in its latest “Just Do It” advertising campaign.

In his op-ed, Bergh noted that he wrote an open letter to customers in 2016 asking them to refrain from bringing firearms into Levi’s stores and other facilities — even in states where it was allowed by the law.

“In the days after I published that letter, I received threats to our stores, our business, and even on my life,” he wrote. “It was unsettling. But these personal attacks pale in comparison to the threats that activists and survivors from Parkland, Sandy Hook, and daily incidents of gun violence face every time they speak up on this issue.”

Levi Strauss is also encouraging its employees who are concerned about gun violence to get involved. The company has expanded the five hours a month it provides employees in paid volunteer time to include political activism.

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