Nike “Just Do It”

By Jane Atkinson Student ID: 213438614 WordPress User Name: jmatkins68


just do it

Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan was based on a murder’s, Gary Gilmore, last words (De Zeen Magazine, 2015)

Endorsement ‘Goddess’

louvre_12 - Version 2

Nike means “The Goddess of Victory” (The Westologist Cultural Insight, 2016)

It is genuinely believed by most Marketers, that celebrity endorsements enhance the brand and generate sales revenue by creating brand awareness and product differentiation to motivate customers to buy their products. (Schimmelpfennig & Hollensen, 2016)

Nike’s name is synonymous with celebrity endorsements, particularly with that of high profile athletes. Celebrity endorsements are used to attach positive brand associations with that celebrity. (Iacobucci, 2014, p. 152) According to CNN Money Nike spent nearly US$1 billion in 2015 on endorsements alone.

just endorse it.jpg

Nike use emotional branding techniques; which is the formation of an emotional relationship between their customers (fans) and the brand, (Kolbl, et al., 2015) as epitomes in their advertising.

Nike’s ads rarely focused on the product itself, but on the athlete, who makes an emotional association with their customers.

An example of emotional brand connection is the “Ripple” Ad with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. This ad exemplifies how a young Rory connected to and was motivated by Tiger’s greatness, to achieve his ultimate goal by competing side by side with Tiger.


Connected to emotional branding is ‘associative learning’, “which provides a mechanism by which an associative link between a brand and a celebrity can be built”. (Till, 1992) The relationship with Michael Jordan and Nike embodies this, so when fans think of Michael Jordan they think of Nike and vice versa, consequently both have become part of each other’s “association set” (Till, 1992).


Nike’s brand association with Michael Jordan is successful, with the Jordan brand generating annually more than US$2.5 billion in sales. (Rovell, 2016)

‘Bad Behaviour’

The use of celebrity endorsement in marketing can work very well for a brand, as long as the celebrity positively depicts the perceived customer’s brand attributes. This positive association or “affect transfer” (Iacobucci, 2014, p. 152) between the celebrity, the brand and the customer must be resolute.

By contrast ‘bad brand associations’ can occur when a celebrity’s image is tarnished by behaviours which are deemed unacceptable. This type of negative publicity can cause brand damage and in turn, a liability to the sponsor. (Lear, et al., 1990)

Nike is not immune to their athlete’s gone ‘bad’; unfortunately they cannot control nor predict their ‘bad behaviour’. Behaviours such as illegal drug use or criminal activities or homophobic opinions are not tolerated by Nike.


Nike’s approach to ‘un-tolerated’ behaviours is simple; they suspend or cut their sponsorship. The recent announcement of Maria Sharapova confirming she failed the “Australian Open” drug test and tested positive for a banned substance called ‘meldonium’, resulted in Nike immediately suspended their relationship.

“We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues.” (Elgot, 2016)

Just Swoosh it


Swoosh represents motion and speed, designed by a college student, Carolyn Davidson, who was paid a measly US$35. (Redding, 2014)

It’s difficult to quantify any negative effect on Nike’s financials, attributed to bad athletes behaviours and whether ‘bad brand associations’ have been created.

But when a company spends over 10% of their revenues on promotional costs, they cannot afford, ‘bad branding associations’ from their athletes. Nike in 2015 spent a staggering US$3.2+ billion dollars, in advertising and promotional costs. (Nike, 2015)

Nike’s swoosh like approach to athlete’s ‘bad behaviour’, is cutting or suspending their sponsorship’s, preventing ‘bad brand associations’.There has been no detrimental effect on their revenue numbers; Nike’s revenues have grown 9% year on year since 2013, recording US$30+ billion dollars in revenue in the 2015 fiscal year. (Nike, 2015)


Interestedly, why did Nike continue to back Tiger Woods who committed adultery which would be considered a “bad behaviour”. Perhaps it was the customer’s perception that cheating wasn’t as bad as drug taking or worse murder, after all he cheated on his wife not golf.

Needless to say Nike gained US$2 million dollars in sales after the cheating scandal was exposed. (Dindar, 2016)

So Tiger did you learn anything! Probably not….



De Zeen Magazine, 2015. De Zeen Magazine. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 8 May 2016].

Dindar, S., 2016. Quick Tap Survey. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 7 May 2016].

Elgot, J., 2016. The Guardian. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 7 May 2016].

Gross , P. & Wiedmann, K.-P., 2015. The Vigor of a Disregarded Ally in Sponsorship: Brand Image Transfer Effects Arising from a Cosponsor. Effects Arising from a Cosponsor, November, 32(11), pp. 1079-1097.

Iacobucci, D., 2014. Marketing Management. 4th ed. Mason: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

Kolbl, Z., Konecnik Ruzzier, M. & Kolar, T., 2015. Brand Revitalization: Don’t Let Your Brands Turn Into Sleepyheads. CENTRAL EUROPEAN BUSINESS REVIEW, 4(2).

Lear, K. E., Runyan, R. C. & Whitaker, W. H., 1990. Sports celebrity endorsements in retail products advertising. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 37(4).

Nike, 2015. Nike Financials. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 3 May 2016].

Redding, D., 2014. Magnetic State Design Studio. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 8 May 2016].

Rovell, D., 2016. ESPN. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 7 May 2016].

Schimmelpfennig, C. & Hollensen, . S., 2016. Significant Decline in Celebrity Usage in Advertising: A Review.. IUP Journal of Marketing Management, February, 15(1), pp. 7-19.

The Westologist Cultural Insight, 2016. The Westolight Cultural Insight. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 8 May 2016].

Till, B. D., 1992. Using celebrity endorsers effectively: lessons from associative learning. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 7(5), pp. 400-409.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s