Nike Inc. has witnessed “record” engagement from its “Just Do It” ad campaign featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Speaking to investors following the release of its first fiscal quarter results, Mark Parker, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Nike, said he felt “very proud” of the campaign, adding that it resonated “quite strongly” with consumers around the world and introduced “Just Do It” to a new generation of shoppers.
“We’ve seen record engagement with the brand as part of the campaign and our brand strength, as you well know, is a key dimension that contributes to the ongoing momentum that we’re building across the Nike portfolio,” stated Parker. “How we look at it is how do we connect and engage in a way that’s relevant and inspiring to the consumers that we’re here to serve.”
Kaepernick sparked a national conversation by kneeling during the national anthem at football games to protest racial injustice and Nike’s campaign initially sent its shares downward. They have since recovered, recently reaching a record high of $86.04 a share, as Millennials bought the stock in support of the move, even though some consumers burnt their Nike shoes and otherwise criticized the brand in protest against the campaign.
Parker’s comments came as the apparel giant posted revenues of $9.95 billion in the 13-week period ending Aug. 31, up 10 percent from a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting $9.94 billion.
Net income for the Beaverton, Ore.-based company jumped 15 percent to $1.1 billion, while diluted earnings per share were up 18 percent compared to the prior year at 67 cents, topping forecasts for 63 cents.
Its gross margin, however, was slightly weaker than anticipated on the back of higher-than-average selling prices. This sent shares down 4.5 percent in after-market trading.
“Nike’s Consumer Direct Offense, combined with our deep lineup of innovation, is driving strong momentum and balanced growth across our entire business,” said Parker in a statement. “Our expanded digital capabilities are accelerating our complete portfolio and creating value across all dimensions as we connect with and serve consumers.”
As well as hitting the headlines earlier this month for its new “Just Do It” ad campaign, Nike has courted controversy over its alleged treatment of women in the workplace. Last month, two former female employees sued the company, alleging they were paid less than their male counterparts and were exposed to a hostile workplace.
This followed Trevor Edwards, the former Nike brand president who was viewed by many as the natural successor to Parker, resigning in March after women who worked at the company conducted an internal survey on gender discrimination and presented the results to Parker.
These issues were not discussed during the call.