Nike wins over political moderates with new Kaepernick TV ad

By Swayable

By Ashwini Anburajan, Valerie Coffman, and James Slezak

A new ad from Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick set to air on the NFL’s opening telecast tonight is doing more than just reigniting political passions and the ire of President Trump. It’s actually positively changing the minds of political moderates and even some conservatives on issues of racial equality, according to new research from Swayable, and increasing their favorability towards the brand at the same time.

The national research study was conducted in less than 24 hours since the ad was released, sourcing detailed quantitative and qualitative input from over 2,500 US respondents who watched it online. The team measured the impact on brand favorability and opinions about the treatment of minorities. Respondents became 3% more favorable towards Nike after a single viewing of the Kaepernick ad. That figure that rose to 8% among political moderates, who also became 3% more agreeable that action should be taken to improve treatment of minorities and African Americans in particular.

Very conservative viewers of the Kaepernick ad already have a low opinion of Nike and are not moved any further away. Moderate conservatives drop their favorability of Nike from 56% to 50%.

The most conservative viewers started with a substantially lower opinion of the brand than the most liberal, at 39 percent versus 77, but the ad did not cause them to move any further away. If anything, it had a significant positive effect (3%) on their stance on racial equality.

The Kaepernick ad had a negative effect on people age 65 and older.

A few groups lowered their opinion of the Nike brand after viewing the Kaepernick ad. Moderate conservatives dropped from 56% favorability to 50%. Evangelical Christians and people age 65 and over had the most significant drops at 18% and 15%, respectively.

Evangelical Christians also significantly lowered their opinion of Nike after viewing the Kaepernick ad.

The ad, which features Kaepernick saying, “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything,” referencing his dismissal from the NFL for choosing to kneel during the national anthem, achieved the delicate balance of presenting an authentic viewpoint on a divisive social issue while increasing brand favorability.

A few respondents in the study said they “felt moved to tears.” Another wrote that Nike’s “sales would soar because their message of inclusiveness is clear.” Others said:

“Go Nike for standing up for something greater.”

“Very inspirational, inspiring, informative, and thought-provoking. I’ve always felt Nike is a reliable brand and now I like them even more.”

These results offer a perspective on a question that is becoming more and more important for brands: can taking a clear stand in favor of core values be a winning strategy, even when that stand is opposed by a segment of the public as well as the president?

Just measuring reactions on social media would argue against this — with the hashtag #boycottNike trending on Twitter. However, social furor and engagement from those active online and overall sentiment of those actually viewing the ad may not be correlated based on Swayable’s research. Instead, this research suggests that the furor is limited to a few specific groups.

In Nike’s case, we would argue that they are both showing a substantial positive impact on the degree of support for minority rights in the United States across the board and making a strong positive impression of the brand. The decision to embrace Kaepernick won respondents over to Nike, while not alienating viewers that were self-described as conservative.

Swayable’s Methodology For the Nike Study

Over 2,500 respondents were invited to take a survey after watching either a Nike ad or a control video, a PSA on texting and driving, which served as the baseline. The survey asked questions about attitudes towards Nike, beliefs about Nike’s impact on the community, and positions on the social debate surrounding racial equality and police violence. The differences between the groups that saw the Nike ads and the control were then calculated by the Swayable platform.

See the full results and a demo of the Swayable platform here.