onewild thought

A collection of our views, rants and thoughts on design, branding, communication, and any other thing we find interesting.

Counting The Cost of Nike’s Bended Knee

Nike just did it!

They joined forces with swathes of protesting NFL Players, led by Colin Kaepernick.

The sportswear giant signed Kaepernick on a multi-year deal that makes him a face of the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign. They doubled up on the ‘Kap’ reveal with a video that aims to rile up the outlier in you.

Now, considering the amount of time and resources that Nike has invested into building a gilt-edged brand over the course of its existence; the high perch it commands on the roll call of admirable American brands, the financial indices any company would covet longingly, the ever fierce competition from Mr Adi Dasler’s camp, and the bulk of what it stands to gain versus losing; did it really count the cost of taking a knee?

Or…

Is this road less taken, an all too familiar route where they need no introduction?

Firstly, I believe the brand is playing the loyal friend. Beyond that Kaepernick has been a Nike-sponsored athlete since 2011 and had previously been featured in several campaigns, the brand has a long history of partnering with athletes of colour. This partnership gives them an edge in marketing a certain image as they (continue to) walk on this road less taken.

But then again, that’s just Nike doing Nike things.

Since the Kaepernick tweet that arbitrarily announced the Ni-Kap bromance, ‘the world’ has been divided into two major halves – one half thumbed it up, while the other half not only vowed a massive boycott, but went on to torch anything that has the Nike swoosh on it.

Add the massive boycott threats, gear torching and a plethora of articles, to the creative hashtags across social media, high level op-eds and general word-on-the-streets, you have a great meal of free publicity. Add that to an avante-garde, publicity-conscious brand, you have a banquet.

For a brand that is ever in your face, encouraging creativity, innovation and daring the outlier in you, it is only a matter of formality to even think they need an introduction to this particular stage.

For brand watchers (like me 😉), the division would be evened out into two camps – the conservatives and the outlaws. The former would admit Nike has been doing relatively well in a sports market that is constantly under pressure but would maintain it cannot afford to make (potentially) bad decisions. Anything which has the tendency to damage market share, such as overtly political campaigns, should be treated like a plague.

The outlaws would pitch in the opposite direction – that was Nike just being Nike. While they might admit the move by was risky (which is merely letting off steam of arrogance), they would quickly follow up with the narrative that ‘risky’ moves are necessary to stay relevant and stay ahead. Nike, though an American enterprise, has grown to be a global brand with a far-reaching audience, a lot bigger than those within the borders of where it was birthed. Hence, it would certainly not be affected by alt-right semantics from a portion of people.

Conservatives would retort; that exactly is enough reason to stay away from potentially damaging firecrackers, especially as the brand becomes a global behemoth.

Outlaws would counter that however big a tree grows, it can’t grow too big and completely detach from its roots. Hence, Nike will never shy away from identifying with its roots – what made it what it currently is. It becomes increasingly imperative by the day for brands to take a stand on social issues of global scale, younger consumers want to know what their favorite brands stand for – more of a reason to take a stance.

For all the argument is worth, Nike has since inception, been walking the route of Robert Frost’s traveler in poetic classic; The Road Less Taken:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

While you can choose the camp of the Conservative or Outlaw, understand that it is configured in Nike’s DNA to be the latter – to walk on the road less taken. If anything, we would be worried had they decide to sit back and play safe.

For all they have stood for and for all they are worth, they are pathfinders on this road, and that, for them, has made all the difference.

Caveat: Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.

#OneWildRide

“… and the stars look very different today
For here am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can’t do…”

Space Oddity, David Bowie

If you’ve ever watched this classic animation, Heavy Metal, then you’ll likely feel a bit of a shiver when you learn that a car is cruising in space right now. Elon Musk’s latest dare-deviling elicits a deja vu about the opening scene of that movie.

That picture of Starman in the Roadster with the earth silhouetted behind him is an exciting pictorial representation of what 2018 should be; shoot ad astra, to the stars.

Last year Elon sent it out to us, the world, that the first thing that Space X will be transporting to space on the Falcon Heavy will be a Roadster. And on Tuesday, the car roared off into space on top of the Falcon Heavy, right at the same pad man launched to the moon in 1969. This is one of OneWildCard’s prediction for 2018 which you can watch HERE

Elon Musk himself and Space X have established themselves as clever deviants and all aspects concerning the Falcon X’s launch mirror this; the car especially.    The car, Elon’s Tesla Roadster, was used in replacement for what would have traditionally been a slab of concrete (the purpose of putting anything on a rocket is to check the weight transporting capacity) but nah, that would have been boring. The feelers of your interest won’t be excited if it had been a concrete right? The idea itself is depressing and not so stimulating for those who have crazy sense of imagination.

With well placed words and design, Elon turned the launch into a classic case of cross promotional marketing. People are talking about this. Why? It’s unusual, it’s daring and let’s even throw a nod to the dissenting party and say it’s outrageous, nonsensical, even a thousand times eye-roll worthy. Yeah, all that. But people are talking about it.  Now, people are reminded that a car can cruise in the space, with music of choice on blare volume. If you’re wondering why I used the word “reminded”, know that Elon’s car is not the first to be in space. The Apollo Lunar Rovers already took that medal. But hey, when we’re talking about a car that’s going to be cruising in space for a while, the Roadster is it. Plus, it’s carrying the names of 6000 Space X employees’ names on a plaque which is awesome.

This is not the first time Space X is doing something so badass and non-conforming. A wheel of Le Brouvere cheese was launched along with its Dragon spacecraft’s first flight. Always, Elon seeks to raise the bar, to do “something unusual, something that made us feel” (Elon Musk). Can we agree that this is the spirit of real branding and marketing)? So when next you’re designing or marketing a brand, look to open a damn of feelings (good ones!) at best or a burst of opinions at least.

Hey, do you know you can get a ride on Falcon Heavy for as low as 90 million dollars? Before you protest, compare it to the price of the SLS which is 1billion. Start dreaming about that one wild ride.

Mandela: #OneWildConviction

 

Black sheep are different. They are wild, they breeze through restrictions just because…it’s their nature. They stand strong for their beliefs and they keep going towards their goal regardless. You might break them in bones, but not in spirit. But are they always bad? Who says “black-sheeping” is bad anyway?

What does it take to be different? To have a voice that leads the cowardly whimpers of thousands? To stretch out one’s neck for a dare and own up to one’s actions?

It’s guts. Lots of guts. Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela had it in trailer loads and for this he is celebrated till today. However, it’ll be a stupid thing to do not having a deep knowledge of what you are doing while having the famed guts. On the fall of 1964, April, when he made his speech from the dock, he said,

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

This isn’t just any conviction of his actions, it is a conviction based on deep rooted knowledge, marinated in the hot sauce of his experiences and baked in the heat of his dreams for his country. If this foundation of his wasn’t as strong, he would have been a blubbering mess at the Rivonia Trial. He would have bent in Robben Island rather than bend the authority to his will.

Mandela

You know another way Rivonia Trial could have been famous? Right. He could have turned and kissed the government’s ass to save himself from being convicted. But we all know he didn’t. And that, is one wild conviction (in all meanings of the word) that we recognize.

On this day, we rise to the memory of the man who was different, declared himself a rebel and gave the finger to the minority government he fought.

To Madiba, uBawomkhulu… #OneWildSoul