Today, corporations recognize that having a social purpose matters: people want to work for companies with a purpose, consumers are aligning their purchase decisions with their passions, and investors, including Blackrock, are insisting that social purpose is mandatory for the companies they invest in. Too often, however, having a social purpose is business rhetoric rather than a meaningful response to important social issues.
Believing in something even if it means sacrificing everything is a message with a purpose. Beyond being an embodiment of “Just do it,” Colin Kaepernick’s message is an inspiring call to action about the importance of standing up or kneeling for what you believe in. It’s also brilliant marketing that co-opts the idea of rebellion to engage Nike’s young and racially diverse customers.
This campaign is a great for Nike’s business. However, by addressing the reasons why Kaepernick was kneeling in the first place racist policing, unacceptably high rates of incarceration of African-Americans and economic exploitation, Nike would be even more successful. Nike also needs to eliminate labor rights violations in its factories and ensure zero tolerance for discrimination and the harassment of women.
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