What can universities learn from Nike’s latest, and groundbreaking, campaign ‘Believe in Something’? With social media ablaze with reactions and opinions referencing Nike, we caught up with Natives Group CEO, Steve Evans, for his take…


Nike makes money from people buying their sneakers and sports gear, but “sells an attitude”. Epitomised for the past 30 years with their trademarked Just Do It™.

The Kaepernick campaign was a brand-wide, calculated move that has been invested in by every single member of the Nike regime. Supported top to bottom. They knew the risks, they measured it against potential bottom-line rewards.

The teams did their research – replica jerseys with Kaepernick’s name on them are still among the most popular among fans despite him not being in the league since 2017.

It’s worth noting, that our own survey of thousands of young people through our Student Hut panel, 60% of respondents stated that they do consider a brand’s ethics when making a purchase.  You can view the full report here.

Nike considered the risk and would have absolutely known this would upset a minority of NFL fans, but measured that against their aim of reaching audiences beyond the USA, into Europe, China and India. It’s certainly done this, it’s already generated $43 million in buzz for Nike so far.

Crucially, though, they had the strength to stand by their convictions. No backtracking here. Instead, they properly backed it up with ready-made content to support their position, perfectly demonstrated with the choreographed release of their Mexican advert.


Executed and choreographed beautifully, with some of the most high profile “influencers” to organically stand by the campaign.


I can’t help but note – why wouldn’t I, as CEO of a creative ad agency – how this demonstrates the importance of a strong partnership between a brand and their creative advertising agency. Kudos to Nike and Wieden+Kennedy. Let’s not forget that it was founder Dan Wieden who came up with the icon slogan.

Nike has created something that defines their long-term brand purpose and positioning with something that was well researched, thought out and aimed to improve the bottom line. Trump claims that the Nike share price is “being killed” turns out to be fake news, Nike is the 37th most popular stock on the brokerage, up from 57th last week and, more importantly, their core audience are the new investors.

Selling an attitude is fundamentally about shifting shoes and improving the bottom line. Nike’s plan is paying off.

I don’t always agree with Mark Ritson, but in his article he quotes William Bernach – one of the founders of modern day advertising.


“If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you. If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you, and nobody for you.”


Today more than ever, students want to be engaged and stand for something. The brave Universities that work out what they stand for will be the ones who cut through.​

Want to talk more about how Net Natives can help your university cut through? Get in touch here.

Article by

Steve Evans