Nike’s new “Don’t Do It” ad has drawn solid support from viewers although it if falls short of the marketer’s 2018 Colin Kaepernick ads on a couple of key measures, according to findings from Ace Metrix, which tracks advertising effectiveness.

The new ad addresses racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the protests it spurred. It calls for consumers to stop being silent and stand up for racial equality.

According to a press release from Ace Metrix, general population consumers, aged 16-to-49, found the spot Empowering (more Empowering than 98 percent of all ads), but not without controversy. The spot garnered more Exploit signal (at a level that only 1.4 percent of ads earn) than either of the Kaepernick spots from 2018, which were social media wildfire but actually less polarizing among the general population.

An overwhelming majority (60 percent) of respondents indicated the message was the Single Best Thing about “For Once, Don’t Do It,” driving the high Empowerment score. Supportive viewer verbatim comments were thoughtful and appreciative of the willingness of the brand to engage in the conversation:

  • “It’s extraordinarily important to change our justice system in order to ensure that the lives of anyone, especially those minorities that already have a reason to fear the police, aren’t in danger of losing their lives. It’s nice to see a corporation, which has much more power than individuals within our society, pushing to support the black lives matter movement.” — Female 16-to-20
  • “I think Nike is a brand that people of all backgrounds can relate to. The brand has the moral authority to lead the country through a conversation about racism and police violence. the ad was simple but highly effective.” — Male 36-to-49

At the other end of the spectrum, Exploit signal was driven not by people against the cause Nike has taken up, necessarily, but by other exploitative aspects of the spot, including taking advantage of the situation to sell shoes. The high score on the “But” Emo is also a strong indicator that respondents had internal conflict over the ad:

  • “I do not like the current state of racial tension in this country, but I certainly do not want to be lectured to by a multibillion-dollar company about what I should do.” — Male 36-to-49

Some of that But signal stemmed from viewers either calling on Nike to do more or calling out its contrasting business practices, like sweatshops and a lack of diversity on its executive team (similar to the social media backlash):

  • “I appreciate the message but it surprised me that the brand was Nike and not for a racial equality organization. Nike has way more power than I do, so I feel like if I’m going to be sold on what a good, caring brand Nike is, then I should be told in the ad how *Nike* is contributing to the fight for racial equality.”  — Female 16-to-20
  • “Nike lying to people that they care about people even though they use child labor and sweatshops for their overpriced products” — Male 36-to-49

Ace Metrix data indicates that “For Once, Don’t Do It” scores on par with the past Kaepernick spots for positive purchase intent, and lower on negative purchase intent suggesting potentially lower numbers of “boycotters” after this ad.

Ace Metrix said in its release, “Nike sets a high bar for other brands willing to enter the conversation about racial tension in America. Consumers will be expecting these brands to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, a lesson taught and learned by brands directly confronting the coronavirus pandemic. Ace Metrix advice remains the same for brands taking on culturally sensitive material: Actions speak louder than words. Be specific. Consumers want to know, concretely, what brands are doing to actually help.”

Logo courtesy Nike