Marketing has long been a driver for the Nike brand and that’s been enhanced in these times of multimedia messaging, particularly the company’s ongoing and expanded connections to high-profile athletes.
Sometimes these ad campaigns have been controversial, as with Nike’s new Just Do It campaign with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose protests against racial injustice have drawn praise and ire. But the company has seen “record engagement with the brand as part of the campaign,” Mark Parker, president and CEO said on a conference call with analysts this week.
“We feel actually very good and very proud of the work that we’re doing with Just Do It, introducing Just Do It to the new generation of consumers on the 30th anniversary of the campaign,” Parker said. “We know it’s resonated actually quite strongly with consumers.”
Parker said he feels the Just Do it campaign has “an incredible line up of athletes in that spot.” He said, “When you look at the Just Do It campaign and the list of athletes we have there, it’s actually quite impressive including Serena [Williams] and Odell [Beckham], Colin Kaepernick, Shaquem Griffin, Lacey Baker, these are actually very inspiring athletes. And again, we feel like that campaign has delivered on that message in a way that’s really connected with people around the world.”
Parker said like many campaigns, “It’s driving a real uptick, I think, in traffic and engagement, both socially as well as commercially.” He said, “We’ve seen record engagement with the brand as part of the campaign.”
He said for Nike, the marketing efforts are a “key dimension that contributes to the ongoing momentum that we’re building across the Nike portfolio.” He said the marketing campaigns are about “how do we connect and engage in a way that’s relevant and inspiring to the consumers that we are here to serve.”
Meanwhile, Nike is seeing strong momentum in new digital commerce partners. Andy Campion, chief financial officer, said in the first quarter, Nike continued to enhance and expand its Nike Digital ecosystem, leading with mobile, and the result was 36 percent Nike Digital growth. Campion said, “Nike Digital was once again our fastest growing channel in each and every geography.” Across geographies, he said Nike Direct grew 12 percent and Nike Digital increased 34 percent.
Parker noted that the company just moved from a pilot stage to a fully operational program with Flipkart in India, and this month the company announced a new partnership with Jet.com to sell selected assortment of Nike and Converse in key cities in North America.
“With Jet, we’re partnering to develop consumer insights and create a better branded experience on their platform,” Parker said. “And we’re doing the same with our key partners in China. This quarter, we made it possible to combine NikePlus member accounts to Tmall accounts. We’re seeing an impressive increase in new members in China as a result. And lastly, we launched partnership with WeChat, making 1 billion monthly active users just one click away from becoming a NikePlus member.”