Nike and the Arrogance of Moral Certainty
Russ Klein

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Ensure justice.” Yes, I’m paraphrasing. And yes, this is a quote from the Bible, a source I don’t normally quote but I felt it less cliche than the weathered quotes of a great man.

We are in different times, my friend, and it calls for different measures. Should Walter Cronkite (I acknowledge not a marketer but a journalist with a huge platform not unlike Nike) have kept his “subjective” opinion to himself?

Sometimes you must use your platform. Sometimes change only happens when enough people speak up in the same voice. This is one of those times. I’m not sure if it was just click-bate but let’s look at your teaser “a politically incendiary cape…makes you a superhero.” I would say this is exactly the point! “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” They took the challenge of their own message. They know this issue in and of itself does not make them a superhero (ie- popular) to all Americans. What makes you a superhero is standing up for what is not popular. This transcends just marketing tactics.

Also, if you dig deeper you will find the second message in their promo video, “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.” They highlight both the anti-hero (the average kid with not so average physical limitations but even greater drive, along side our athletic heroes and challenges us to say “what defines a superhero?” Side note: Kap is standing, looking up at a giant projection of the American flag. More Nike brilliance.

And, from the marketing perspective, yes maybe they latched onto a message their demographic wants to hear. We all strive to do that. This one just happens to be critical to the future of our citizenry. I think there is a difference between exploitation and sending a reminder that we can be better humans, even when it’s hard.

Listen, I get your point. It is a risk that probably smaller businesses just can’t take. But wow…you called Nike marketing ignorant and arrogant? Huh. A little harsh for someone who appreciates Nike’s marketing genius as much as I do and who asks civility.