Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Portland
After 30 years, Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline never felt fresher. The brand’s “Dream Crazy” extension of the campaign depicted how athletes including Serena Williams, Ironman Charlie Jabaley and homecoming queen-linebacker high school student Alicia Woollcott all defied expectations to make their “insane” fantasies a reality. Arguably, the most defining executions centered around former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick. One bold tweet and an inspirational spot relayed a powerful message, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” While it references Kapernick’s polarizing decision to kneel during the national anthem during NFL games in protest of police brutality and the treatment of racial minorities, it also speaks to Nike’s decision to throw itself into the center of a cultural controversy. That risk proved worth taking. In its first quarterly report following the Kaepernick ads’ release, Nike’s revenue increased 10 percent to $9.4 billion, propelled by Nike brand’s 14 percent rise to $8.9 billion. The move also set a new bar for marketing as brands increasingly look to become part of the cultural conversation.