While Nike’s slogan “Just Do It” has become a rallying cry for working hard and achieving greatness, the activewear brand is tweaking its tone to connect with Americans in the midst of countrywide protests and unrest. Four days after George Lloyd died in Minneapolis, Nike released a one-minute ad called “For Once, Don’t Do It.”. The video tells viewers “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism.” The poignant message changes the recognizable slogan from “do” to “don’t” before ending with a motivational call to get everyone to “be a part of the change”. Nike videos dominate across social media and YouTube, as noted in Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear US, where the brand placed first. As such, after the ad was released on Nike’sYouTube and social channels, it quickly went viral.
Nike is one of the first brands to respond to current civil unrest, choosing to react head-on through its video message. While other brands have been weighing in on the tragedy, Nike’s blunt call to action aided its rapid-fire spread—the Twitter post gained more than 200,000 likes and 100,000 retweets within a week of being posted. The brand also created a hashtag, #UntilWeAllWin, on Instagram and Twitter to further show support and spread its message. This is not the first time Nike has behaved boldly about a social issue. In 2018 Nike tapped former NFL player Colin Kaepernick to star in its ad with the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”, which marked the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It.” slogan. The activewear company’s ad was seen as a support message for Kaepernick, whose kneeling in protest during the national anthem became widely controversial.
In the face of social tensions, Nike is once again using its voice to connect people around the country. The activewear brand’s call to action could resonate with consumers—who lean more towards brands that are socially active—and other brands roused to use their own platforms to speak up in troubling times.