As the country continues to reel from racism—the American Psychological Association issued a statement calling racism a pandemic—brands appear to have taken a silent or measured approach in their response.
Today, however, one of the world’s most iconic and impactful brands, Nike, has taken the boldest step so far with a new ad.
Instead of tiptoeing around the subject, the 60-second ad “For Once, Don’t Do It” from Wieden + Kennedy Portland puts the scourge of racism squarely in the spotlight with simple, powerful statements like:
“Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.”
“Don’t turn your back on racism.”
“Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us.”
“Don’t make any more excuses.”
“Don’t sit back and be silent.”
The ad launched at about 7 p.m. Friday, when Black Lives Matter protests were taking place nationwide.
“Nike has a long history of standing against bigotry, hatred and inequality in all forms,” said a Nike spokesperson. “We hope that by sharing this film, we can serve as a catalyst to inspire action against a deep issue in our society and encourage people to help shape a better future.”
It’s too early to tell how public reaction will play out, especially from the White House. In 2018, Donald Trump tweeted that Nike was “getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts” after the brand launched its seminal Colin Kaepernick spot that September.
However, sales and the athletic giant’s stock price increased. The campaign that sprang from the initial ad further illustrated Nike’s commitment to social issues and highlighted one of the brand’s most visible athlete partners in that space.
As for the latest ad, which flips the brand’s long-standing “Just Do It” slogan, Kim Sheehan, director of the University of Oregon’s Master’s program in Advertising and Brand Responsibility, said she was “glad to see Nike quickly addressing how to respond to recent, horrific events,” adding, “This is authentic for them, given their support of Colin Kaepernick.”