Nike's crisis or political stand.

Nike. The hotly debated decision Nike made to cast Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th Anniversary "Just Do It" campaign. If you remember, Colin Kaepernick began the protest against standing for the US flag during the playing of the National Anthem at the start of NFL games. Kaepernick stated, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Fast forward to 2018, Nike, Inc. chose Kaepernick to be the brand of its new campaign with a caption, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." Social Media has been in a flurry of anger, support, boycott, and other emotionally charged postings. We are not here to debate right or wrong about Kaepernick, his views, or the views of Nike.

What we are here to discuss is the backlash Nike, Inc is facing or is it? Was this a stunt to garner a controversial media publicity for essentially free press? One thing we all can agree on is Nike is facing a crisis as we speak? Again, regardless of which side you take on this issue, Nike's stocks are dropping as a result of taking the position it has. At the same time, it has been reported Nike has received over $43 million in media exposure. Nike, Inc. has also started a flurry of controversial debate amongst its customers. Some are boycotting nike and others are rushing to support the campaign. So the question raised is, when is it appropriate for a company to take a political stance? Remember, when your company makes a stand it is the brand taking the position for the entire company not that of an individual. What this creates is a unique public relations "crisis" that will ultimately divide its customer base. Is this a sacrifice your company can afford? Should your company split its valued customer base because of the political stance, it takes? These are essential questions your executive staff should examine along with your public relations before going live. Many companies have alienated its customer base only to find themselves impacted by diminished recurring revenue.

The first amendment is necessary and vital to a free nation. We at 53 Strategic, value each of our amendments and would strongly caution any client or company from making political statements unless necessary and in the right forum. We would also recommend our clients or any company to seriously consider separating their individual beliefs from those of the company. Remember why you started your company. Was it to provide a service? Maybe a product? Whatever that reason was you wanted to offer something to people. As a company, hopefully, you wanted to be inclusive and not divisive. Now, that people have invested in your idea is it appropriate for you to mix politics with business? Understand that this question is individual and must be answered by what your company represents. If being political is apart of your organizational makeup, then maybe it's ok for your company to make a political stance. Just be ready for the backlash either way. Have a public relations plan to deal with the negatives and the positives because without a plan you can quickly find your self in a spiraling disaster.

Lastly, do all of the people who work for your organization feel the same way you as a leader feel? Do you have a policy in place that prohibits your personnel from expressing their political views? What if those views are in contradiction to what you or your company represent? Can the opinions of your employees be misinterpreted as representing your company? With all of this, you must carefully evaluate when and how you convey views, expressions, and political opinions. A rule of thumb, stay clear of politically charged debates unless necessary. Decide quickly who in the company can make that decision. And be ready for the results "even if it means sacrificing everything."