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Expert: Nike's Campaign to Attract Millennials is Costing Brand Boomers' Business

First TV ad featuring Kaepernick to Air During NFL Opener

Nike billboard featuring Colin Kaepernick
Nike's new ad campaign featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick is stirring controversy with consumers and investors.

09/06/2018

Tonight during the NFL’s season opener, Nike will debut its first TV ad featuring former player Colin Kaepernick, the centerpiece of the controversial installment in the company’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

The campaign’s early image of Kaepernick – whose decision to kneel during the national anthem ignited a national debate over racism, free speech and other issues – with the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” launched this week and has already led to a drop in Nike stock and divided consumers between those burning sneakers and calling for boycotts and those who are vowing to buy more Nike products. 

While the campaign has put the spotlight on Nike, which is seeing growing competition from Adidas and Puma, the strategy is one that may not deliver the intended results: growing market share by targeting millennials, according to business strategy expert Scott Latham

“For every millennial gained, they have lost a baby boomer,” Latham said of the reaction to the Nike campaign. 

Nike’s call for relevancy, as Latham describes it, is leading to a lot of attention for the company on social media from average Americans to President Trump, but when the discussion among consumers is whether to dispose of or donate their Nike goods to charity, the likelihood of a positive effect on sales seems low. 

Latham, a professor in UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business, is an authority on business strategy, growth and turnarounds, and whose private sector experience includes working in business development and marketing for some of the world’s largest companies, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

He is available for interviews in person, by phone or ReadyCam, which delivers high-definition video and sound live via Internet.

To arrange an interview or for more on Latham, contact Christine Gillette at Christine_Gillette@uml.edu.