Did NIKE miss the biggest branding opportunity ever when they walked away from Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG?

livestrongDid NIKE miss the biggest branding opportunity ever when they walked away from Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG?

What happens when a charity creates negative impact on your companies brand?

Nike just announced it will end production of goods for Livestrong, the cancer charity set up by disgraced sports star Lance Armstrong.

In a sporting business moment which would have been as good as Jerry McGuires memo, have they missed the biggest global marketing opportunity ever offered to them?

Nike are in a very difficult position, via association with a cheat, who by his actions now stands against the very thing Nike promotes. A cheat who also created a massive amount of good.

There can be no doubt the whole affair has dented Nike’s brand. Yes we can probably say it wasn’t their fault, but the next time you’re in a shop, looking to buy a pair of trainers, the shadow of Lance Armstrong may be in your mind. Will it stop people from buying Nike? Probably not. Of course I will still buy Nike.

However, Nike will need to repair the damage to their brand, and this will cost serious money.

The question is: could Nike have avoided this? The answer, I believe, is yes they probably could have.

The reality is most companies don’t take the branding opportunities via charitable engagement seriously. They will invest massively in buyer behaviour reports, analyzing the customers every rational, but play candidly over partnerships and association with charities, in an area which effects people, customers, staff in deeply psychological ways.

If ever there is a cross point between ‘business and personal’. Supporting a charity has to be it.

At a conference a few years back, the keynote speaker was one of the top marketing execs in the country. He talked specifically about this cross point, suggesting that in ‘business everything is personal’. He was right, because everyone of us who got behind Nike and Livestrong, likely did it for personal reasons tied to our values as human beings. When a company messes with a persons individual values, there will be hell to pay, to win them back.

So what could Nike have done in response to this affair? I believe they could have supported Livestrong even more, or even taken them over. They could have come out strong, and boldly removed Armstrong, and rescued the charity, by incorporating it into their brand. Instead they are delicately trying to extricate themselves in a very uncomfortable divorce, which is probably making things worse, making people feel worse, making the brand look worse.

A takeover would have been the unexpected thing, it would have been the move of a saviour, a champion, a super hero. The very thing that Nike stands up for, and they are missing the opportunity. Every single sports fan in the world was watching this affair, every TV channel in the world was covering it. Hell, it even made Oprah!!

They could have made a stand for cancer patients, something like, ‘Lance Armstrong was wrong but supporting people with Cancer is 100% NIKE’. The world would have celebrated the move. After a couple of years they could have quietly restored Livestrong as a separate entity, and be remembered as the champion who saved them.

Likely, the brand damage budget will be much more than the cost of what a takeover would have been.

Working with Charities is a brilliant opportunity for businesses, but it needs to be strategically done, and when it is, the results can be very good for your business, and that is personal.

Latest appointments in the Not for Profit Sector: This weeks Social Enterprise Herald is out now!!

Is it only a matter of time before overseas charities dominate Australian fundraising?

Top ten tips for winning with crowd funding for not for profit Managers

Is it only a matter of time before overseas charities dominate Australian fundraising?

If you are a CEO, Board Member, or Manager of a not for profit then perhaps it’s time you thought about the above question. Why? Because it may become a reality, and may land upon you very quickly. I assure you it is not ‘pie in the sky!’

If you’re thinking, ‘how such a thing could happen, or that it would never happen’, then remember Borders Book store, remember Virgin Mega Stores, remember all those viable businesses that are not here anymore because something remarkable happened. The Internet destroyed these businesses because suddenly people could get what they wanted by simply clicking a button on their computer.

These companies were not destroyed because they didn’t supply what people wanted. People certainly wanted what they had to offer. NO, these companies were destroyed because they did not change how the interacted with their customers, they did not move into Internet technologies quick enough to maintain their market dominance.

The Internet has no geographical trade boundaries. It is global, national, state, and local all at the same time. 

Data supplied by Morgan Stanley reveals the mobile internet, i.e. smartphones and IPads etc, is growing faster than any other computer device in history, AND by 2015, yes only two years, will outsell desktops and laptops, AND will become the device of choice of most people.

The mobile Internet, sometimes described as WEB 3, is going to be two things: an opportunity and a threat.

In 2012, $2.1 Billion was fundraised by crowdfunding websites. In 2013, The figure is estimated to be an incredible $5.1 Billion. American sites dominate with 59% share, and European 35% share. SOME OF THESE SITES ARE ALREADY SOURCING FUNDS IN AUSTRALIA.

These sites are learning, and learning fast about how to engage the crowd, how to motivate the crowd, and how to persuade the crowd to donate. And how long do you think before some of these sites start to act globally. Well actually some of them are already likely doing so.

So why would someone switch their giving from an Australian charity to a global charity. They will do it because whoever presents the most compelling story will win. Whoever engages with the donor the best will win. Whoever listens and communicates the best will win. Whoever has the most compelling results will win.

Of course, local small charities will still prevail, people will still support you, but if you don’t consider the implications of the mobile web, and its effects upon your charity, and how you interact with donors then you could be inviting trouble.

For a snap shot of the data: http://holykaw.alltop.com/crowdfunding-statistics-trends-infographic.

For my FREE 30 page ebook on Crowd Funding: http://russellworkman.com/contact-2/crowdfunding-for-nonprofits/

Article by Morgan Stanley: http://www.morganstanley.com/views/perspectives/tablets_demand.pdf