Two words hold the power and ability to capture the attention of college students across America.
I’m kidding. Sort of.
Extra credit is more like it.
You can sense the shift in the room as anxiousness turns to excitement as the professor utters those sacred words. The jolt of electric energy revives the room as heads are lifted, ears are perked and shoulders are momentarily relaxed as a sweeping silence directs all the attention to the front of the room, where the finer details of gpa redemption is explained. The faces of the formerly hopeless, are lit up at the chance to slightly correct a semester’s worth of procrastination. You can even see Chad, begin to pay attention for the first time all semester, as he doesn’t look entirely as hungover as he normally does for a Wednesday morning.
It truly is a glorious moment in the college experience.
That moment happened to me during my sophomore year in my Intro to Sociology class. My professor graciously gave us the opportunity to submit a final paper for extra credit, given that we behaved within the perimeters, and didn’t choose to skip class for sleep. With an opportunity of a semester on the line, I suddenly became flustered with the process of connecting sociological concepts to real-world topics that could be elaborated on. In the midst of lacking inspiration, I began to do what I do best when procrastinating-looking up my favorite commercials and campaigns. My wandering fingers stumbled upon Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign with Colin Kapernick.
It doesn’t take a rocket science to know that all successful campaigns have to push the boundary and cause a disruption to be noticed. The Nike/Kapernick ad does just by choosing to have Kapernick as the primary spokesperson. A person who risked their professional football career to take a stand against racial injustice and police brutality, Kapernick became the face of the “Take a Knee” movement during the NFL 2016 season. Many applauded his actions, however Kapernick’s display was also viewed as unpatriotic and disrespectful towards the brave men and women that risked their lives for the freedom that allowed him to act out his powerful choice of personal expression.
When this ad aired, people were infuriated, and went so far to video themselves burning their Nike shoes and products. A bold move to use such a controversial player at the face of their campaign, yet controversy and adversity go hand in hand, thus making this one of the successful advertising campaigns of all time.
Watching this piece with my newfound mindset of viewing things from the sociological prospective and combining it with my eye for invigorating advertising, I was captivated by the sociology that goes into a successful campaign.
The ad itself does an impeccable job of incorporating different and unique individuals, all from varying racial backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. From a sociological aspect, Nike intentionally choose athletes that represented the nation as a whole. Skate boarding teens, disabled heroes, each coming from different genders, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. From the advertising perspective, it was a genius move to promote brand loyalty and inclusivity- two vital concepts in which the marketplace had been lacking since the early 2000’s. From a sociological perspective, by showcasing a variety of individuals with different and diverse stories, Nike’s campaign was able to resonated with a majority of their target market. The shock value of using such a controversial figure also assisted in the momentum of the campaign.
Despite the commercial and campaign being one of the most talked about and controversial advertising stunts of 2018, Nike sale’s skyrocketed, and the ad agency, Weiden + Kennedy, received lots of attention and awards, therefore demonstrating the power of integrating sociological concepts into advertising.
I ended up finding a connection between my class and my career…and it lead me to getting an A on the final paper, and a newfound perspective for my passion.