Nike's New Ad Tells Those Who Would Ignore Racism: 'Don't Do It'

W+K's stark spot was unveiled Friday

Nike, which was widely praised, and in some circles vilified, for a 2018 campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick—the NFL quarterback who had publicly protested police brutality against African Americans—on Friday evening unveiled another ad pointedly addressing the scourge of racism in the U.S., as the country reels from the death of yet another black man at the hands of a white officer.

The 60-second spot, created by Nike's longtime agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland, is extremely spare—just nine lines of copy on a black background, followed by the Nike swoosh. "For once, Don't Do It," the opening line says.

For once, Don’t Do It | Nike

The lines of copy read:

Don't pretend there's not a problem in America.
Don't turn your back on racism.
Don't accept innocent lives being taken from us.
Don't make any more excuses.
Don't think this doesn't affect you.
Don't sit back and be silent.
Don't think you can't be part of the change.
Let's all be part of the change.

With the new spot, the brand immediately rejoins the national conversation around racism, as Minneapolis is convulsing—with protests spreading to many other cities—over the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

Nike has proven more than willing to alienate some of its customers over its activism in this area. The brand faced some criticism—including from President Trump—over the Kaepernick campaign, but founder Phil Knight later said: "It doesn't matter how many people hate your brand as long as enough people love it. And as long as you have that attitude, you can't be afraid of offending people. You can't try and go down the middle of the road. You have to take a stand on something."

Indeed, Knight has said his decision to approve the Kaepernick ad stemmed from a conversation he had with LeBron James at the time, who had confided to him that his son was about to start driving, and he was worried he might get shot by a policeman.

"Nike has a long history of standing against bigotry, hatred and inequality in all forms," Nike said in a statement about the new spot. "We hope that by sharing this film we can serve as a catalyst to inspire action against a deep issue in our society and encourage people to help shape a better future."

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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