Nike Swooshes America

Nike Swooshes America

Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

So many pieces, so little time.

An awful lot of points of national survival converge from this little misstep by Nike in re the Matter of Colin Kaepernick as their new #JustDoIt poster boy.

The first piece of the jigsaw is why do so many corporations these days get away with throwing their “brand” and potential profit margins under the bus, when both are treasures their boards of directors and management in publically-traded companies are required to protect? By law?

Nike took a five point tumble when they launched the new Kaepernick campaign a few days ago, but have gained much of it back. And sales have increased, so any notion that Nike may lose money long term is premature to call. In fact, overseas, where America (and Trump) is seen as an enemy to European political and ruling class anyway, Nike’s stock may go up.

Brand analysts are guarded about the long term risk Nike has taken, and may profit from it, since most of Nike’s buyer-base are high-end spenders who are largely indifferent to patriotic themes, National Anthem and such, but virulently opposed to ideas that are sold to them as racist.

I’m most taken  by the notion that Madison Avenue largely sees America as little more than a “brand” that can be bought and sold.

Hold that thought, for in the up-scale buying market, everything, including ideas, have to be sold. They are rarely learned or discovered anymore, either from intellectual inquiry or by personal observation.

Brand analysts know this, even if most of us don’t. And they’ve known it for a long time. And their best paying jobs are in politics, not in selling retail products.

In the Kaepernick case, it’s almost as if some market guru came to Colin three years ago and said, “Since your career’s not going anywhere anyway, let us pitch this idea.” Maybe they even sent in the succubus.

Don’t laugh, this is perfectly plausible.

So in a related story, people thought Dick’s Sporting Goods would suffer when they distanced themselves from the NRA brand after the Parkland shootings in February. But they had actually stopped selling assault-style rifles long before, in all but a few subsidiary stores, after Sandy Hook in 2012. Dick’s is down over 10 points since Sandy Hook (close to 25%) but up about 5 since Parkland (2017), so the retail chain’s financial condition may have little to do with the NRA or its 2nd Amendment position.

While publically traded, Dick’s is still a family company and its brand loyalty is nothing compared to the iconic name of Nike and its swoosh.

But Dick’s sells Nike, so we’ll see as the NFL season progresses if they can dodge a second round of outrage from an even broader audience[…]

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