Nike: You Can’t Stop Us – A Lesson in the Power of Taking a Stance

Nike You Can't Stop Us
Set amidst a glaring backdrop of a global pandemic and the BLM movement, Nike’s You Can’t Stop Us campaign combines flawless editing with a strong message. With 72 clips split across the screen, the one-and-a-half-minute advertisement hammers in the importance of unity, strength and motivation at a time when most people have a bleak impression […]

Set amidst a glaring backdrop of a global pandemic and the BLM movement, Nike’s You Can’t Stop Us campaign combines flawless editing with a strong message. With 72 clips split across the screen, the one-and-a-half-minute advertisement hammers in the importance of unity, strength and motivation at a time when most people have a bleak impression of the future.

The Context Behind This Nike Campaign

It’s no secret that the year 2020 has been a slow one for sports, with major events such as the Premier League, NBA and more, occurring in closed stadiums. However, with governments now calling Covid-19 the new normal in an effort to alert people that we all must learn to live with the virus, global economies are slowly starting to churn back to life. With sports and sports marketing being huge sources of revenue, events like the NBA, MLB, WNBA and even IPL 2020 (which is slated to start on 19th September) are gearing up for their respective matches.

This makes it the perfect time for Nike to raise public morale and bring back the spirit of sport and competition. And, it did so beautifully.

The Campaign

Narrated by US football (yes, it’s not soccer!) star and the current best female footballer in the world, Megan Rapinoe, the campaign focusses on a message of solidarity and hope during tough times. Starting with dialogue that spells the importance of unity, the advertisement touches on not just the power of human resilience and the ability to bounce back, but also talks about how vital it is to fight for change, with images showing closed stadiums as well as sports teams supporting the BLM Movement by taking a knee during the US national anthem in an effort to protest racism and inequality.

The video then swings back to hope. “No matter how bad it gets, we will always come back stronger,” Rapinoe vows. “Because nothing can stop what we can do together.”

Finally, Nike leaves us with the message “You can’t stop us”, with the last word scrawled in red over the word sport, hinting that its message goes far beyond a show of support for sporting events kicking back up.

Nike’s MO: Brand communication with a message

Nike has never shied away from taking a stance on social issues, with its all-text ad urging people “For once, don’t do it” released earlier this year, and the infamous ad from last year with Colin Kaepernick with the copy “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” For context, Colin Kaepernick received backlash last year for taking a knee during the national anthem in support of the BLM Movement. The former, on the other hand, urges the reader to take a stance against racism and to acknowledge that it is a very real problem in America.

Interestingly, though the brand was supporting speaking up against racial inequality, its shares fell by 3.2% after releasing the ad. Of course, true to its own words, this hasn’t stopped Nike from taking on pertinent social issues and raising awareness, even if it meant taking a bit of a loss.

From a marketing standpoint, right after Nike released its ad with Colin Kaepernick, the brand saw a boost in online sales by 25%, in spite of social media being flooded by haters burning their pairs of Nike shoes. This was primarily due to BLM Movement supporters banding together to buy more products from the brand in a show of solidarity, with people like Nick Canon famously buying multiple pairs of shoes and donating them to the homeless.

Similarly, back in 1988, Nike released a campaign against ageism, starring Walter Scott. The message was so well-received that the brand’s revenue boosted to $1.2 BN in 1988 from $ 877, 357, 000 in 1987, catapulting it into one of the most recognizable names today. This clearly shows that standing a stance, no matter how controversial, can often yield better results for brands than being silent.

Why does the ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ campaign by Nike work?

Nike has already proven time and again that the brand is an ally of the BLM Movement. However, with the You Can’t Stop Us campaign, it’s not just focusing on inequalities, but is focusing on another message that’s equally as important in this day and age – one of hope. The global pandemic has led to widespread unemployment, loss of human life, and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty regarding the future.

By pushing for the re-opening of the economy in the form of sporting events, Nike is aligning its voice with the voices of millions of people across the globe who’ve been dealing with the harrowing effects of the pandemic. Instead of simply saying, “yes, things are bad”, the brand chooses to remind us of our collective strength. It stresses on the importance of fighting back, not giving up, and coming back stronger than ever – exactly what people need to hear right now.

While there are countless brands trying to cash in on the pandemic by pushing vitamins and immune-supplements, Nike chooses to offer a message that doesn’t revolve around its products. The fluid editing, narration, and message come together wonderfully to create an advertisement that offers positivity during distressing times.

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