NYC Social Media Strategist Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, was recently on Fox News discussing the latest Nike controversy with Colin Kaepernick and the Betsy Ross Flag. Click here to watch the full segment.
Should brands get political?
The Arizona Governor pulled Nike Tax break incentives after Colin Kaepernick blocked the release of the new Nike betsy Ross-themed 4th of July sneakers.
The Governor was willing to sacrifice economic activity for his state to not allow a company that he perceived to be Anti-American.
Nike crossed such an extreme line with the decision to pull the Betsy Ross themed Fourth of July sneakers that the Governor was willing to lose their business and not do the deal.
Political correctness can only go so far before it has the opposite effect.
If you start losing tax breaks because of PR & Marketing stunts, there is now a direct cost to your bottom line.
How many states will follow suit in terms of the precedent this sets and do the same to other brands who want to insert themselves into politics?
Yes, there is a direct cost of being too political as a brand.
How is it that these shoes could have gotten shipped to retailers without anyone internally from Nikes marketing team seeing an issue with it?
If using this flag was as insensitive as Kaepernick states that it is, what does it say about Nike’s C Level corporate leadership team that not a single person there noticed anything wrong with it?
Are they that out of touch with their audience? Did they fail to do any market research before releasing the product?
Did Nike’s marketing or internal communications team raise any red flags?
Or are they solely relying on outside brand ambassadors and social media influencers to advise significant marketing decisions for the company?
Brands and Politics.
Brands should take calculated risks when it comes to politics— yet companies seem to be doing the opposite— even if it means offending half of their potential consumer base.
It is a mistake to put your own political ideology above the market wisdom of a billion dollar corporation legally responsible to its shareholders to make profitable decisions.
The legacy of commercial brands
As brands compete for relevance, they often make missteps that can result in serious financial consequences down the line.
Legacy commercial brands need to make sure that their brand decisions fall in line with the traditional values and corporate history that the company was built on. If not, the brand risks corporate boycotts, cancellations, and negative publicity.
Diffusing the corporate boycott movement.
Every brand needs a damage control strategy. Take back control of your brands reputation before it is too late.
FOX BUSINESS TRANSCRIPT
New York Branding Expert Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group on Fox Business with Lauren Simonetti and Cheryl Casone discussing the Nike Betsy Ross Flag Controversy
Lauren Simonetti: Everybody is talking about Colin Kaepernick going toe to toe with Nike, the football player and Nike brand representative calling out the sneaker company for its upcoming release of special air max one sneaker featuring the Betsy Ross version of the American flag. There it is right now, 13 stars in a circle. Kaepernick reportedly told Nike that the flag is offensive.
Cheryl Casone: Nike has since pulled the shoes from its website and from its stores even though they had already been shipped to many retailers. But was this the right move for the brand? Let’s ask Ruby Media Group CEO Kris Ruby. Colin Kaepernick is big business for Nike. We know that he has had a huge impact on their sales, but did they make the right decision by caving into this particular criticism?
Kris Ruby: I’m not necessarily sure that they did make the right decision here. If Kaepernick is so important for Nike’s sales, why is he finding out about this on social media? That’s the real mystery in all of this. Why didn’t they come to him first and say, listen, Colin, we’re making these new shoes and this is what they’re going to look like. What do you think? Instead, he sees a picture of it on social media and then after they’ve already shipped to retailers, then he comes back and says, I don’t like them and they pull them. It makes no sense at all.
Lauren Simonetti: If you look at their statement on this, they say we have chosen not to release the new sneaker as it featured the old version of the American flag. But they obviously knew that going in, they decided to put that flag on this Fourth of July American Independence type of show. So, it’s like a complete backtrack for them.
Kris Ruby: They are backtracking. Also, from an agency perspective, so many different things creative wise goes into something like this from the design process to approval levels for it to get this far and for the shoes to actually be made. They are about to sell them. And then they say sorry, we’re changing our mind. There’s something that we’re not seeing that is part of this story.
Cheryl Casone: Do you think that they are offending a big part of the country that might want to? Honestly, I’m a runner. We were just talking about that. I love these shoes. I think they’re great. They’re very attractive shoes. They’d be fun to run in. And do you think that there are, maybe it’s veterans or those that are out in middle America that are patriotic, that wouldn’t even think twice about the design. Are they going to lose those customers?
Kris Ruby: Of course. They are definitely going to lose those customers. I said that the first time they did this whole ad campaign with Kaepernick to begin with, so now they’re going to lose those customers yet again. And that’s the decision and direction that they have said we want to go in because I don’t think they care that much about that base as we can very clearly see here.
We’re going to start seeing photos on social media of people burning their Nike shoes. When you think about the military and our veterans, they are not sitting there with the luxury of which flag should we use on a pair of shoes. They are happy that we have freedom in this country. Yes. They are fighting for us. What is happening with these shoes? Why doesn’t Nike maybe donate them to the veterans since they are fighting for freedom? What are they doing with the shoes? I would love to know.
Lauren Simonetti: Well that’s a good idea. How far does this go? At what point do companies and brands say enough is enough? We just can’t be this PC.
Kris Ruby: It’s totally out of control. These brands have become so political now. If sales are so important, this just seems like a total loss, to be honest because they made those shoes, they shipped them out, they paid people and workers to make the shoes. So, what do they not care about?
Cheryl Casone: Well, they’re finding out, probably going to find out a lot more today as a company. We’ll see how Nike really has to react to this now, Kris Ruby, thank you so much for getting up early. Great perspective from you.
Ruby Media Group is a full-service PR and marketing agency located in Westchester County, New York. The award-winning social media agency offers a comprehensive suite of PR services to help brands achieve their goals.
KRIS RUBY is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, an award-winning public relations and media relations agency in Westchester County, New York. Kris Ruby has more than 15 years of experience in the Media industry. She is a sought-after media relations strategist, content creator and public relations consultant. Kris Ruby is also a national television commentator and political pundit and she has appeared on national TV programs over 200 times covering big tech bias, politics and social media. She is a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator on social media, tech trends and crisis communications and frequently speaks on FOX News and other TV networks. She has been featured as a published author in OBSERVER, ADWEEK, and countless other industry publications. Her research on brand activism and cancel culture is widely distributed and referenced. She graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a major in public relations and is a founding member of The Young Entrepreneurs Council. She is also the host of The Kris Ruby Podcast Show, a show focusing on the politics of big tech and the social media industry. Kris is focused on PR for SEO and leveraging content marketing strategies to help clients get the most out of their media coverage.