Skip links


Nike “Dreams Crazy”: The Power of the Risk

Published on September 25, 2018, at 12:10 p.m.
by Gillian Castro.

Source: Nike (

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough. Don’t believe you have to be like anybody to be somebody. Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Memorable and meaningful ad campaigns have become the norm for well-known brands over the past few years — some gaining positive attention, like Procter & Gamble’s “The Talk” campaign, and some taking risks resulting in backlash and negative attention, like Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner campaign. (Link 5, Link 2) All of these large companies use their platforms to take a stance on issues that are at the forefront of our political climate. Nike adds to this list in a powerful and controversial way with its recent campaign featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

Nike’s new ad campaign highlights a series of athletes with one major thing in common: crazy dreams. At the forefront of the campaign is Colin Kaepernick, a football player most notably recognized for the political statement he made during the 2016 season in which he kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. In Nike’s advertising campaign, Kaepernick is joined by a number of well-known athletes who have also changed the face of equality in their own sports, including Serena Williams, Shaquem Griffin and Lebron James.

The argument over whether this campaign was a strategic move for Nike, or simply a risky one, has very clear-cut supporters on both sides. While a group of previously loyal Nike customers have made their decision by boycotting the brand and burning their gear with the iconic swoosh logo, most communications professionals are considering this “one of the boldest, riskiest and smartest plays in sports marketing history for taking a politically charged social stance.”

Photo by Kristian Egelund on Unsplash

Through this campaign, Nike has fully embodied the slogan of its “Dream Crazy” advertisements: “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.” This move places Nike on a definite side of the political argument for racial equality.

In an article published by PRWeek, Natalie Boden, founder and president of Boden PR and Communications firm, stated, “They knew they’d alienate, but they’ve taken a side and that side is with the large percentage of people in the U.S. and in the world that believe in racial equality. Considering its core target audience is the most racially diverse in U.S. history and that Nike has historically supported diversity and inclusion, they will most likely gain from their decision.”

Judging by recent statistics, Nike is in fact gaining positive results from its decision to stand — or kneel — with Kaepernick. In an interview with WHNT news, University of Alabama marketing Prof. Robert Morgan stated that within 24 hours after this campaign was launched Nike received $43 million worth of free media publicity. In addition, social media analytics show a 1,400 percent increase in brand mentions in the day following the release of the campaign and a 31 percent increase in Nike sales.

Photo by Mikael Cho on Unsplash

The numbers speak for themselves, and whether you agree with Nike’s decision or not, it is clear that this campaign will be game-changing for both the brand and its customers. The campaign shows individuals and companies alike, regardless of their political stances, the power and importance of taking a risk for your beliefs.

Return to top of page