Kaepernick Campaign Created $43 Million in Nike Buzz

The controversy surrounding Nike Inc.’s new Colin Kaepernick ad is a surprise to no one. And in spite of the backlash, it’s probably pretty good for the brand. In less than 24 hours since Kaepernick first revealed the spot on Twitter, Nike received more than $43 million worth of media exposure, the vast majority of it neutral to positive, according to Apex Marketing Group. That far outweighs the risk of alienating some customers, said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing executive at Baker Street Advertising.

The campaign is just the first step in Nike’s new partnership with Kaepernick, an extension of a deal he’s had with the company since he entered the NFL in 2011. The ad features his face along with the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick hasn’t been on a roster since 2016, after he started kneeling for the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality in the U.S.

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The company also knows its customers. Two-thirds are younger than 35, and it’s an ethnically diverse consumer base, according to NPD Group.

As part of the new campaign, the company plans to release a Kaepernick-inspired shoe and t-shirt and will donate money to the quarterback’s “Know Your Rights” educational campaign, according to the New York Times.

The quarterback is currently suing the league, accusing its owners of colluding to keep him out of the league. Last week an arbitrator said Kaepernick had enough evidence to take the suit to trial.

The NFL has responded by saying it is committed to “dialogue, understanding and unity.”

“The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action,” the league said in a statement.

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Beychella. That’s All.

If you missed Beyonces’s two-hour set at Coachella this past weekend, shame on you. The Queen Bee made history.

She is the first African American woman to headline the festival (and made a comment on that point). She was accompanied by 150-plus performers, most if not all of whom were people of color; many of those performers were part of a marching band, majorettes and drumline styled on those from black colleges and universities, and she and her performers often wore collegiate-type outfits bearing the Greek letters beta delta and kappa, her initials with the delta referencing her favored number, four; and the set was loaded with references and quotes from the likes of Malcolm X and Nina Simone.

Today, she took it one step further.

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Yonce revealed that the set’s collegiate theme was pointing to a scholarship program: Through her BeyGOOD initiative, the singer announced the four schools to receive the newly established Homecoming Scholars Award Program for the 2018-2019 academic year. The Universities, Xavier, Wilberforce, Tuskegee and Bethune-Cookman, are all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

One winner from each school will receive $25K for the 2018-2019 academic year for study in various fields. This is the second year for a scholars program created by the singer: The Formation Scholars Awards Program, a merit scholarship program was established in April 2017 in celebration of the one-year anniversary of Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade.” The awards encouraged and supported “young women who are bold, creative, conscious, confident and unafraid to think outside of the box.”

The Homecoming Scholars Award Program for 2018-2019 will expand to all qualifying students at the four universities, regardless of gender. The disciplines will include literature, creative arts, African-American studies, science, education, business, communications, social sciences, computer science and engineering. All applicants must maintain a 3.5 GPA or above. All finalists and winners will be selected by the universities. Winners will be announced in the summer.

 

 

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital Invest $3 million in Bail Reform Startup

Nationwide, 62 percent of the jail population accounts for people who can’t afford bail, according to the Vera Institute of Justice. A lot of these incarcerated individuals are behind bars because they allegedly committed crimes at the misdemeanor level or lower. This is a significant statistic from a human rights perspective, as well as an economic one. It costs about $38 million a day to keep these largely nonviolent people behind bars, according to the Pretrial Justice Institute.

This is where Promise, a de-carceration startup that just raised over $3 million in a round led by First Round Capital with participation from Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, 8VC and Kapor Capital, comes in. Last Father’s Day, Jay-Z penned an op-ed about the bail industry and pre-trial incarceration. He noted how every year, $9 billion is wasted incarcerating people who have not been convicted of crimes.

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Promise, which is part of Y Combinator’s  current batch of startups, offers counties and local governments an alternative to holding low-risk people behind bars simply because they can’t afford bail.

For each participant, Promise provides counties with a comprehensive intake procedure and then sets up each participant with a care plan specific to them. Promise will then monitor and support participants by helping them ensure they know when they’re supposed to appear in court, and remind them of obligations like drug testing or substance abuse treatment needed. The app also helps participants access job training, housing, counseling and referrals.

Instead of a county paying to incarcerate someone simply because they can’t afford to post bail, they can use Promise to monitor compliance with court orders and better keep tabs on people via the app and, if needed, GPS monitoring devices. Counties, courts, case managers and other stakeholders can also access progress reports of individuals to monitor compliance.

Already, Promise is onboarding one county this week and is in talks with another three counties. Instead of a county jail paying $190 per day per person, Promise charges some counties just $17 per person per day. In some cases, Promise charges even less per person.

 

The 5 Biggest Brand Fails of 2017

This year, there were many ads which had us wondering how they could have possibly made it past a team (teams!) of creatives and brand professionals, let alone out into the world? Here are the biggest brand faux pas of 2017. Relive. Relearn. Don’t emulate.

Pepsi
Pepsi’s two-and-a-half minute spot “Live for Now,” featured Kendall Jenner leaving her modeling job to join a nondescript protest. In the ad, tensions are mounting between protesters and police—that is, until Jenner magically solves everything by opening a Pepsi for a cop. The brand quickly pulled the spot, which was released in early April, and apologized. 

The lesson learned:
the biggest brand gaff Pepsi committed with this spot was putting its product in the center of social issues while simultaneously trivializing said issues. As writer, social worker and activist Feminista Jones eloquently put it earlier this year when asked about the ad, “brands should never make light of social issues related to people’s suffering; they should, instead, focus on selling their products in ways that don’t exploit the pain and suffering of marginalized people.”

Dove
In October, Dove posted a social ad on its Facebook page that featured a black woman taking off a shirt similar to her skin tone to reveal that she had turned into a white woman wearing a shirt similar to her skin tone. After receiving the much-deserved criticism, Dove pulled the ad and apologized: “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.

The lesson learned:
Dove—or any brand, for that matter—should never create an ad that could so easily be taken out of context, especially one that could read as having a racist message.

United
Things started off poorly for United this year when passengers took (and shared) video of a man being forcibly dragged off a plane by security when he was randomly selected — and declined — to forfeit his seat for airline maintenance workers. That alone was enough to cause an uproar on social media and tarnish the reputation of the brand, but things only got worse when CEO Oscar Munoz issued a cold, victim-blaming apology in which he praised his employees for following proper procedures. Proper procedure or not, delicate situations like this require warmth and understanding — and United Airlines wasn’t prepared to offer it.

The lesson learned:
There are two here: First, The customer is always right. Always. Second: If you make a mistake, admit to it. Every business is going to send out an erroneous or harmful tweet at some point. The ones that stand to recover easily are those that immediately and humbly admit to their mistakes, and try to make up for them.

Uber
It was a pretty disastrous year for Uber overall, with its company’s image enduring a huge series of hits for multiple reasons. But its marketing was no saving grace either and was in fact what kickstarted the downfall. Customer frustration with Uber first peaked back in January after the ride-sharing company appeared to try to profit off a taxi strike, deciding to eliminate surge pricing at JFK after the New York Taxi Workers Alliance went on strike to oppose President Trump’s immigration ban. Within a few hours, the hashtag #DeleteUber had gathered steam and people had started removing the app from their phones. Uber issued an apology and its ousted former CEO Travis Kalanick detailed the company’s stance on immigration. But the company didn’t take any further steps to support its position.

The lesson learned:
Today’s public wants to support companies whose beliefs align with their own—and skeletons won’t stay in the closet for long.

Ad Love: My Brother’s Keeper

Just in time for Christmas, My Brother’s Keeper, President Barack Obama’s program dedicated to guiding young men of color, released a new star-studded PSA.

The ad features two well-known friends of Obama: rap star Chance The Rapper and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry.

The video is a montage of Chance, Steph, Obama, and various young people watching a video on their respective devices. In the commercial you hear Obama’s voice say:

“I want you to know, you matter. There is nothing, not a single thing, that’s more important to the future of America than whether or not young people all across this country can achieve their dreams.”

Watch the My Brother’s Keeper ad below:

Charles Barkley Pledges $1M to Black Women in Tech

Charles Barkley was one of the most vocal and active supporters of Doug Jones in the race to defeat Roy Moore for a Senate seat in Alabama. Along with that, he showed his appreciation for the overwhelming turn-out of Black women at the polls in Alabama, by announcing that he will be making a hefty donation to fund the ambitions of Black women who wish to start up tech businesses.

“I’m announcing right now, I am pledging $1 million to black women in Alabama to start I.T. startups,” Barkley told the Inside the NBA panel while giving his reaction to the political developments in his native state.

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In the past, Barkley was criticized for taking stances that were contrary to popular opinion in the Black community, but many of his deeds have shown him to be a charitable man.

In the past, Barkley has supported such organizations as Ante Up For Africa, ENOUGH Project, Hillsides, LIVESTRONG, Not On Our Watch, Stand Up To Cancer, United Service Organization, and the Wounded Warrior Project. Back in 2016, he pledged his commitment to Black education by donating $3 million to four HBCUs (Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M University, Morehouse College and his alma mater Auburn University).

John Legend Unlocks Futures

John Legend and his nonprofit, FreeAmerica, teamed up with New Profit and Bank of America to scan the country for the most impactful returning citizen social entrepreneurs. This partnership resulted in, Unlocked Futures, a 16-month accelerator for social entrepreneurs impacted by the criminal justice system.

After analyzing hundreds of applications, eight were selected including Flikshop, an app that allows you to send postcards to an inmate from your phone, tablet, or the web.

“Though 1 in 4 Americans has a criminal record, too often are formerly incarcerated individuals locked out of job opportunities because of their past. I have seen that entrepreneurship is a viable way for formerly incarcerated individuals to build sustainable livelihoods and contribute to their communities and neighborhoods,” said Legend in a statement. “We hope Unlocked Futures will serve as a powerful tool to break through the barriers to opportunity that exist for so many who have criminal records.”

Legend seems incredibly hopeful when it comes to these entrepreneurs and assisting in the process of giving them an opportunity to grow their businesses. “It’s clear that we’ve got a long way to go but, with people like you working tirelessly to change the system, I’m optimistic.”

Check out the video below, showcasing highlights from the entrepreneurs.