Nike’s Caster ad bites


The Citizen (Gauteng) - - NEWS - Bren­dan Seery

Orchids to Telkom and Ar­ti­fact for bill­boards, but an Onion to telecoms firm too.

One of the prob­lems of run­ning a brand is that if you want to make a so­cial state­ment, or do some­thing in­tended to change so­ci­ety, then you need to be au­then­tic.

So­cial me­dia denizens will sniff you out in a heart­beat if all you are do­ing is “virtue sig­nalling” … telling ev­ery­body you are vir­tu­ous be­cause you have taken a stand on this or that.

I don’t quite know what to make of Nike’s con­tro­ver­sial cur­rent stance on so­cial is­sues. Ath­let­ics gear does not, and can­not, change the world. But if you do sup­port a cause then you will get sup­port. That’s been the les­son for the com­pany in its use of Amer­i­can foot­ball player Colin Kaeper­nick as the front of its “Just do it” cam­paign in the US.

He gained no­to­ri­ety by start­ing a move­ment to protest po­lice bru­tal­ity (es­pe­cially against African-Amer­i­cans) by kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them at games.

Many fol­lowed suit, out­rag­ing con­ser­va­tives, who claimed they were des­e­crat­ing the mem­ory of sol­diers fallen in com­bat (the kneel­ing ac­tion is a trib­ute to them).

There was push­back against Nike from the con­ser­va­tives, but its sales quickly bounced back, as did its shares.

Now, the “Just do it” cam­paign’s in-your-face sig­na­ture has been ex­tended, with an ad fea­tur­ing our own Caster Se­menya. It shows her win­ning races, in her Nike equip­ment of course, but also recre­ated footage of her youth, from her first steps to her love of run­ning and hard work … al­though she was, clearly, on a dif­fer­ent level to those around her.

Then a voice ques­tions the world (and pre­sum­ably the in­ter­na­tional ath­letic bod­ies which have tried to hand­i­cap her). It asks if peo­ple would have pre­ferred it if she wasn’t so fast, if she didn’t work so hard, if she hadn’t been so proud, if she had taken up a dif­fer­ent sport, even if she had not taken her first steps. Then she an­swers with a sim­ple “well, too bad …”

It’s an el­e­gant sum­ma­tion of her fighting spirit. Every­one wants to make her con­form and her re­sponse is: to hell with you! The ad ends, per­fectly, with the words “When you’re born to do it” fol­lowed by “Just do it”.

A great match: top class ath­lete, top class ath­letic brand. And it makes a con­tro­ver­sial so­cial state­ment. So it will be no­ticed. And get­ting no­ticed is good ad­ver­tis­ing. So Orchids to Caster Se­menya and Nike.

I am hand­ing out an­other Orchid now, to Ar­ti­fact Ad­ver­tis­ing and Telkom, for the clever, up­dat­ing bill­boards they’ve just put up. These con­tain news-driven mes­sages which are changed to echo the events of the day.

I’ve al­ways said that the thing most ad agen­cies miss is a good news ed­i­tor – some­one who can see a story and get it out there, chop-chop.

Cre­atives can some­times see a story, but can be pris­on­ers of their own headspaces (rule num­ber one, in news, as in ad­ver­tis­ing, is: You are NOT the tar­get mar­ket).

That’s why I like the Ar­ti­fact idea and Telkom for let­ting them run with it. It’s a great way to keep your name top of mind. So Orchids to you both.

How­ever, great mar­ket­ing is one thing, poor cus­tomer ser­vice and in­com­pe­tence is an­other, Telkom.

I got a call from one of your call cen­tre peo­ple this week, as I had de­cided on your Orchid.

He phoned to try and sell me fi­bre. Just as some­one did in De­cem­ber last year. And at that time, I signed up. But do you think any­one from Telkom both­ered to fol­low up on that De­cem­ber call?

When an or­gan­i­sa­tion is so slap­dash about an op­por­tu­nity to earn money, how bad must it be when it comes to look­ing af­ter the cus­tomer once the deal has been done?

Judg­ing from all the com­plaints out there, Telkom, you’re not very good.

So, as you re­ceive this Onion, per­haps you could look for the lo­gis­tics, train­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion equiv­a­lent of Ar­ti­fact Ad­ver­tis­ing.

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