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Digging Deeper into Nike’s ‘Crazy’ Advertising

It’s been a little over a year since Nike released its now award-winning television ad, “Dream Crazy.” The spot, starring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, kicked off months of Nike making splashes with its “Dream Crazy”/”Dream Crazier”/”Dream Further” ads that touch on both sports and cultural topics. Of course, it’s not necessarily new territory for the brand, which has long pushed its advertising to be conversation-worthy, controversial and conscious of the larger cultural factors in the world around it. Given the role the campaign’s played for Nike, however, it’s worth diving into it a bit deeper.

The New York Times covered the campaign at length this week, examining what happened between Kaepernick and the NFL in the lead-up, the Kaep-centric gear that Nike sold out of quickly in the aftermath and the anti-Nike backlash from some conservatives at the time. The below looks further into Nike’s advertising around “Dream Crazy” and its residual campaigns, plus how “Dream Crazy” interacted with digital audiences as well.

Using data from always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, some top-level points first:

On TV, the “Dream Crazy” ad was viewed 134 million times, representing 5.5% of spend and 8.8% of Nike’s TV ad exposure going back two years.

Kaepernick’s “Dream Crazy” and (later, “Dream Crazier,” starring Serena Williams) were the least likely of Nike’s TV ads to be interrupted in the last two years. iSpot measures second by second attention to ads at scale.

Over a two year period from Sept. 6, 2017 to Sept. 8, 2019, Nike spent $93,879,646 on TV, running 34 different spots. Unlike other major brands, Nike focuses almost exclusively on sports programming, and had a low amount of airings for the spend, with 2,909 total. It still had a high impact, however, as the brand generated 1.54 billion TV ad impressions on those airings.

Compared to other spots over that stretch, “Dream Crazy” was the fifth-most expensive TV investment, and had the fourth-most impressions.

By estimated TV spend:

By impressions:

Nike originally premiered a 90-second version of “Dream Crazy” on Sept. 6, 2018 during an NFL Sunday Night Football game between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. The brand then aired 60-second versions 146 additional times over the following month.

  • Est. spend: $5,216,221 
  • Airings: 147
  • TV impressions 134,907,154
  • Live impressions: 122,021,172

By measure of attention the ad did extremely well vs. any other shoe ad during the five-week stretch of 147 total airings: 

  • The ad was watched all the way through 97% of the time, and viewers were 60% less likely to interrupt ad play on TV compared to other sneaker/shoe ads during the same period
  • Viewers were 32% less likely to interrupt an ad compared to other Nike ads running at the same time

We can also look at Nike and Kaepernick’s respective social media profiles using data from CreatorIQ, the influencer marketing platform tracking activity for all creators with over 10k followers, across all the top social networks, globally.

As of Sept. 8, Nike had 134.3 million connections across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, with the majority of their audience being Male (63.1%) and Caucasian (56%).

It can also be argued that Kaepernick helped Nike deepen the cultural conversation and tap into Kaepernick’s more than 6.7 million followers/connections, 42% of which are identified as African American.

Kaepernick has a highly engaged audience, especially on Instagram — which is used in 95% of all influencer marketing campaigns. Compared to Nike’s engagement rate of 0.52% on Instagram, Kaepernick’s engagement rate of recent posts is 4.37%, which is nearly 2x the average rate for the sports industry overall.

Video measurement company Tubular Labs tells us that “Dream Crazy” was viewed 30.2 million times on Nike’s owned social video channels, according to Tubular Labs. “Dream Crazy,” “Dream Crazier” and “Dream Further” ads have been viewed over 251 million times across Nike’s owned social video channels.

Nike’s amassed 896.4 million views across owned social video channels since the start of 2018, on just 550 total uploads. Those videos have elicited over 37 million engagements, with seven of the top 10 most engaged-videos coming from the “Dream” series of videos. 

Since the start of 2018, six different Nike social videos have earned at least 20 million views.

  1. Twitter: “Don’t Ask if Your Dreams Are Crazy” (36.7 million)
  2. Twitter: “Show Them What Crazy Dreams Can Do” (31.8 million)
  3. YouTube: “Dream Crazy” (30.2 million)
  4. Twitter: “Never Stop Chasing Your Crazy Dream” (26.4 million)
  5. Twitter: “It’s Only Crazy Until You Do It” (22.4 million)
  6. Twitter: Don’t Change Your Dream. Change the World.” (21.2 million)