Another Nike Blog

Photo from Nike

In the past 12 months, Nike has taken a clear stance on several social issues. The most notable issue they addressed was Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem. Their advertisement using Kaepernick’s face read, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” This advertisement sparked debate between those who supported Kaepernick and those who didn’t. Some consumers claimed they would no longer buy Nike’s products because of the political implications of the advertisement.

The next social issue they tackled was equality for female athletes. This campaign was far less controversial and brought in a lot of praise (as written about in our Call Me Crazy blog post). It motivated all athletes, male and female, and created positive buzz for the company. Any backlash from this empowering campaign certainly would have backfired on the person it came from.

Most recently, Nike tackled another controversial issue, as they are seeing from the response to placement of new, plus-sized mannequins in the Nike flagship store in London. New mannequins are hardly newsworthy, but these have sparked public debate.

Photo from Nike

Outfitted in athletic wear, the plus-sized mannequins caught the attention of many people. While many see the size of the mannequins as a positive, some see it as something very detrimental to the health of our society. Body positivity is continuing to grow and the media and fashion industries have really embraced all body types. The people that have an issue with Nike’s mannequins are saying that they are normalizing an “obese” and unhealthy body type. Tanya Gold, a reporter for the UK Telegraph said, “The new mannequin is obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. What terrible cynicism is this on the part of #Nike?” Sarah Berry, a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald, responded by saying, “…our attitudes about bigger bodies and about “obese” mannequins say more about our health than theirs. This is because our fat-phobia is a form of hatred – a toxicity of mind – that is an epidemic.”

Clearly these mannequins have sparked a debate between those that believe we should be inclusive of all body types, and those that believe a line should be drawn when it comes to portraying what they believe are unhealthy body types. Nike has once again catalyzed a worldwide conversation, and most likely increased foot-traffic in their London store to see these mannequins.

It is the biggest sports brand in the world and has achieved great success, but Nike continues to insert itself into public conversation. Good or bad, there is usually something newsworthy going on with Nike. This is a great example of how effective public relations can keep your brand talked about in the media. At Kovak-Likly, we know how to get good press for your brand and how to navigate the bad press. For more information on what we can do for your organization, please call (203) 762-8833

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

Call Me Crazy

In February 2019, Nike launched its “Show Them What Crazy Can Do” campaign. It captured elite female athletes in moments of great emotion when playing their sports. The footage was raw and relatable to both female and male athletes around the world. There are a few reasons why the campaign was so successful.

It is authentic.

Athletes tend to be very passionate about their sport and it can create moments of extreme happiness or disappointment. In Nike’s campaign, all of the footage was clearly real and the authenticity of the emotion was there. Actors portraying athletes would have been a poor choice for this campaign. Using real footage of real athletes created moments that a lot of people could relate to.

It is what the desired audience wants to see.

Female athletes do not get nearly enough visibility or credit for what they do. In fact, they are often seen as “too intense” or “crazy” and that is often how they are portrayed in the media. Nike saw this and used it to show that their intensity is purely out of passion and love for their sport. Just like male athletes, female athletes want to excel at their craft and put everything they have into it. Nike uses this campaign to acknowledge and encourage women to continue being “crazy” when it comes to athletics because it can make them very successful.

It is a topic that sparks conversation.

Nike took the portrayal of women in athletics as “crazy” and turned it into something very positive. When female athletes are discussed in the media, the focus is often not on their skills or athletic ability, but rather on their emotions or fashion choices. Nike took a clear stance in this campaign which is that women in sports deserve equality for doing the same thing as men. If that is seen as crazy, they should keep on doing it and show people the results. This got people talking and is a part of what made Nike’s campaign so successful.

Nike used authenticity, knowledge of their audience’s beliefs and values, and a thought- provoking message to create a very successful campaign. As a company, being clear in your messaging and values is important. As a public relations firm, we are very knowledgeable about creating the right message for your customers. For more information on what Kovak-Likly can do for your organization, please call (203) 762-8833.

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

Getting Social in Public Relations

Social media has been revolutionizing the way people do everything and public relations is no exception. It has changed the way PR practitioners approach their craft, and has fostered an environment where public relations can be more than press releases and media kits.

Social media gives PR practitioners an easy way of communicating with people and an opportunity to reach publics they may not have had access to in the past. By joining relevant groups and discussion boards on sites like Facebook and Reddit, they can introduce their client’s product to the people that would be most likely to use it. Groups and discussions like these also give practitioners an opportunity to see what the public is saying about their client and inform ways to respond to them. The conversation about a client can be monitored, controlled, and added to by the client themselves. Rather than reaching consumers through consumer-facing material, the interaction can be direct and genuine which increases trust in the company.

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to receive a message from someone via Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other social media platform. PR practitioners can use these methods to reach out to all of their target audiences. People appreciate connecting on social media to keep in touch. It gives them a way to stay in constant communication without even necessarily communicating directly. Not only does this include journalists, but potential spokespeople, or the up and coming social media connoisseurs known as “influencers.”

Companies will often reach out to people on their preferred platforms to see if they would like to be an “ambassador” or “collaborator” for the brand. These high-profile Twitter or Instagram users use their platforms to reach thousands, sometimes millions, of people. Working with influencers helps connect the client to large groups of people in a different and interesting way. One Instagram post or story mentioning a company reaches all of their followers and makes them want to use the product that company is offering because their favorite influencer is using it. This is another example of social media drastically changing the way public relations is done.

These are just a few, simple examples of how public relations is changing in the presence of social media. It may be overwhelming at first, but it can be incredibly useful for many companies. We can help you use social media with your company. For more information on what Kovak-Likly can do for your organization, please call (203) 762-8833.

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

What Does This Commercial Meme?

On January 28, 2019 Michelob Ultra released a commercial for its new Pure Gold organic beer. The commercial shows actress Zoë Kravitz making ASMR noises in the rainforest. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and describes the experience of a tingling or static sensation caused by certain noises. ASMR videos have been trending for some time now and constantly pop up on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube feeds.This image from video provided by Michelob shows a frame from their 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The ad features the actress Zoe Kravitz using techniques for autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. It is described as a tingly euphoric response, usually starting on the head and scalp, and sometimes spreading down the neck, arms or back.

Michelob Ultra is not the only company attempting to cash in on what is trending on social media. Many companies have started using memes and viral videos as inspiration for their own posts on social media accounts and even in commercials, as seen from Michelob Ultra. This begs the question, is it appropriate to use memes and trending internet videos on a company’s social media platform or in ads? Additionally, how does this affect the audience that the company is reaching?

The people that spend the most amount of time on the internet are between the ages of 16 and 34. This would be the demographic that a company would be catering to using this type of messaging. According to Digiday, an anti-drinking PSA billboard in Pennsylvania used a meme to get their messaging across. In this case, the age demographic fit well and the meme resonated with teenagers. Virgin Media also used a meme on a billboard to promote its HD channel offerings.

While this messaging is current and funny for certain demographics, older consumers may not understand what these images mean and how they represent the advertiser. It has always been true; a joke is no longer funny if it needs to be explained. Memes or viral videos will always need to be explained to those who do not spend significant amounts of time on the internet or social media.

From a public relations standpoint, companies should carefully consider whether or not memes or viral internet trends are in alignment with their messaging. A poorly chosen meme or viral video could confuse segments of the audience and actually distract from the points the company is trying to get across. The ASMR in the Michelob Ultra Pure Gold commercial has the potential to dilute the key attributes of the product that Michelob Ultra wants consumers to hear. A clear message is always important when it comes to public relations.

For more information on how to get the messaging right for your organization, contact Kovak-Likly Communications at (203) 762-8833.

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

Gillette’s New Commercial: The Best An Ad Can Get?

The razor company, Gillette, recently released an ad that made headlines. It shows men standing up to one another, making a change instead of making the excuse that “boys will be boys.” The ad addresses the “Me Too Movement”, sexual harassment, bullying, and violence. While the message carries many positive implications, reaction has been mixedImage result for gillette commercial

In an opinion article from FOX News, the ad was deemed as insulting to men. It discussed how the commercial calls upon men to “be better” and be a better example for young boys. The woman who wrote the piece, Karol Markowicz, said that she is “tired of the boy-bashing that has become all too common on our screens and in our world.” Markowicz is not the only person to feel this way. The video of the ad on YouTube received 703,000 likes and a whopping 1.2 million dislikes.

Others felt that the ad is what the world needs right now — something to spark a complex conversation and debate across the country. Some men found the video very insulting, while others found the message endearing and empowering. An opinion article in The Hill compared it to Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” which promotes positive self-image among women.

The discussion generated by the ad has been world-wide and riveting. Gillette’s North American brand director, Pankaj Bhalla, said that they expected this. Bhalla also said that “…a discussion is necessary. If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen.” One thing is certain, there has been a lot of discussion about Gillette as a company in this debate. Some people have applauded their meaningful twist on their slogan “The Best a Man Can Get” — encouraging men to not only use the best products, but to also be their best and do their best. Other Gillette users are flushing their razors down the toilet because they are so insulted by the commercial.

While risky, this socially motivated ad is a brilliant PR move by Gillette. The company used a call to action in their ad that places them squarely into the world-wide conversation about toxic masculinity, and uses the power of their brand equity to challenge men to “be better.” It will be interesting to watch the fallout in the days and weeks to come, and to see what else Gillette may have up its sleeve – especially with the highly anticipated advertising surrounding the Super Bowl.

For more information on what Kovak-Likly can do for your organization, please call (203) 762-8833.

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

JUUL’s PR Crisis: Can Different Messaging End an Epidemic?

Since 2015 the e-cigarette, JUUL, has become extremely popular among middle schoolers and high schoolers. This was not the audience the Company claimed they intended to reach. The JUUL was created as an alternative to smoking — as a healthier way for smokers to feed their nicotine addiction. Yet surprisingly, the majority of JUUL’s consumers are underageImage result for juul epidemic

The original advertising for JUUL was bright and colorful and depicted young, attractive people holding the flash drive-shaped e-cigarette. This messaging appealed to children in middle school and high school and may have kicked off what is now being called a national epidemic. According to the New York Times, 11% of twelfth graders, 8.2% of tenth graders, and 3.5% of eighth graders had used a vaping device containing nicotine in the previous 30 days. JUUL is under fire from parents, teachers, and the FDA to address the nicotine addiction they have created among teenagers. The JUUL company has decided to begin fixing this issue with the use of different messaging.

Rather than using the bright, colorful, and youthful advertising it started with, JUUL will begin airing different types of advertisements on television this year. These advertisements will be aired after ten o’clock at night, targeting an audience of people that are thirty-five and older. These 60-second ads will feature smokers, between the ages of thirty-seven and fifty-four, that switch to the JUUL as a smoking alternative. It is estimated that JUUL will be spending $10 million on this campaign, according to CNBC. This is the beginning of a long road for JUUL, one where it must convince regulators that the e-cigarette is being used by adult smokers, not middle schoolers and high schoolers.

According to its website, JUUL has also “pledged $30 million over the next three years to independent research, youth and parent education and community engagement.” The company is working hard to get the right message out: this is a product for adult smokers and children should not be using it. Its social media has turned to showing benefits of the device for smokers and providing visitors with youth prevention education.

The question is, can JUUL really recover from their current PR crisis with different messaging, a new advertising campaign, and youth prevention efforts? Only time will tell. If teenage use decreases, which is unlikely given the addiction to nicotine that has been created in this population, then regulators may let JUUL continue the way they are. If not, it is likely that we will see stronger regulations imposed upon the company in order to rein in this national epidemic.

JUUL’s PR crisis is a tough one and at Kovak Likly Communications we know how to deal with situations like these. To learn more about what we can do for your organization please call (203) 762-8833.

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

Corporate Social Responsibility: AAA Creates a Win-Win

In recent years, many companies have increasingly been focused on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. However, one company’s CSR program stands out as far ahead of its time.Image result for new years eve

For 34 years, on New Year’s Eve, AAA has offered the Tipsy Tow service in select areas across the country. The free service tows impaired drivers’ cars home and gives them a ride. Tipsy Tow is available to anyone — whether they are an AAA member or not — as long as the drive home does not exceed ten miles.

In some areas the Tipsy Tow service runs the entire holiday season – from 6 pm December 21st until 6 am January 1st — while in other areas, it is limited to New Year’s Eve. The December holiday season is not the only time of year that AAA offers this service; it also offers Tipsy Tows on St. Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July, and other celebratory holidays throughout the year. Tipsy Tow is a great way for non-members to learn about the benefits of being an AAA member, and it helps communities in the process.

If someone is not an AAA member, Tipsy Tow does a great job of encouraging them to become one. This is a great PR move on AAA’s part for three reasons:

It shows that they care. Tipsy Tow addresses the very serious dangers associated with drunk driving.

It gets the community involved. AAA encourages local towing companies to team up with them to participate in the Tipsy Tow service. This gives local businesses the opportunity to help people in their area and grow their range of customers.

It gets people interested in AAA. If a non-member of AAA hears about or uses the Tipsy Tow service it could spark an interest in becoming a member of AAA.

While thImage result for aaa logoe Tipsy Tow service has been available in some communities for more than 34 years, several locations have stopped offering it. AAA says that the emergence of services such as Uber and Lyft has eliminated the need for Tipsy Tow since party-goers can now get to and from locations safely and at a reasonable price. As these services continue to grow, AAA may have to explore other ways to use their services to help communities, but for right now Tipsy Tow is a great way to get home safely on major holidays. To learn more about Tipsy Tow and if it is in your area you can visit the AAA website:

Tipsy Tow is a brilliant PR move on AAA’s part. While it was not our doing, we do specialize in pharmaceutical PR. For more information on what we do and can do for your organization please call (203) 762-8833.

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

United Front

If you have been following the news in the past year, odds are that you have seen something about United Airlines. It can’t seem to do one thing right. Dogs have been flown to the wrong continent and died in the overhead storage bins on its flights; passengers have not been satisfied with the service, and the company is seen as being too focused on procedure. There have been a lot of events causing bad publicity, each one worse than the next.

So what is United doing to regain its customers’ trust?

United Airlines has created a new pet policy to deal with its bad track Image result for united airlinesrecord when it comes to traveling with animals. The company has also reconfigured its customer service ideals so that caring about passengers and their well-being is a top priority, even over efficiency.

United is changing by giving passengers free flights and miles, and connecting people to what or who they care about through flights. However, these larger changes rarely impact more than a few people. The real change they must make is in how all employees treat customers.

Other airlines advertise their outstanding customer service and United could really benefit from a PR campaign that emphasizes its customer service when it comes to all customers, not just the ones that get free miles or flights. It is always nice to see a company helping others and giving back but ultimately, especially with an airline, consumers want to know that they will see good service across all flights for all customers.

A campaign that not only encourages employees to have good customer service skills, but also changes the opinions of travelers would be perfect for United Airlines right now. If all 150,000 employees can work together for the betterment of the company, United may be able to regain the trust of their customers.

Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG

Starting Fresh?

chipotleStarting out in 1993 as a simple burrito stand in Denver, Chipotle Mexican Grill now has more than 2,000 locations…and this year is facing perhaps its greatest challenges ever.

Plagued by controversy since the summer of 2015, with a half dozen outbreaks of E.coli and norovirus being reported at locations across the country, the restaurant chain was also subpoenaed as part of a federal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and the FDA. According to a USA Today article, the company will have lost three years of earnings between fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2017 because of multiple food-related illness outbreaks.

While Chipotle’s legal team certainly has their hands full, their public relations team may have the bigger challenge. In an attempt to win back the trust of customers this year, the message of fresh food made from locally sourced ingredients – a longstanding hallmark of their menu – will now have to be combined with one of food safety.

In an interview with the New York Times, Chipotle Public Relations Director Chris Arnold said that for starters, a comprehensive review of food safety practices was conducted, leading to a newly stringent food safety plan.

But how best to translate reformative moves into diners passing through the restaurants’ doors?

Greet the Elephant in the Room.  According to company executives, marketing efforts toward “inviting customers back” will reference food safety in an indirect but creative manner. This tact aims to avoid brushing off the significant scandal while reassuring customers, “we’re on it.”

Free Stuff.  Even wary customers can perk up at the idea of a freebie. Individual stores have always been given an allotment of free product to give away toward promotional efforts. In February, that amount doubled, with distribution details left to the discretion of each manager.

Close Doors Before Opening Them.  Literally. On February 8th, all Chipotle stores closed for several hours so that company executives could address employees about the status of the outbreaks and how they will be working to prevent foodborne infections from recurring.

Whether these tactics pay off remains to be seen. Large restaurant chains have been known to successfully ride out such crises in the past, as long as the matter is handled quickly and completely. Chipotle seems to be on the right track, but ultimately their fate rests in the hands of their customers.

Crisis PR is no joke. When a company’s reputation and future are on the line, it is critical to have the best representation guiding external communications. If you’d like to talk about how our team can back you on that front, we’re ready. Give us a call at (203) 762-8833. We’re ready to help!


Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG, PR Tools and Tactics

Today’s Lesson Sponsored by…

In today’s PR world, we already know that content is king. What remains critical, however, is that the right content needs to be matched with the right brand in order to tell the intended story and forge the strongest connection.

At Discovery Education, creating meaningful partnerships between quality content and brand imaging is a prime focus, with the team and resources in place to pull off impactful campaigns. As part of Discovery Communications, Discovery Education creates standards-based digital content which is available in over half the schools in the U.S., as well as community colleges and schools in fifty countries around the world. With such professional clout, branding partnerships need to make sense for all involved, maintaining the integrity of the program.

In an interview with PRWeek, Discovery Education Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Corporate Education Partnerships Lori McFarling says that investing in education is smart for business, and that for the companies, nonprofits, foundations, associations and agencies who want to engage in the education space, her group can help them to navigate the unique opportunity to differentiate themselves.

Chobani, for example, was able to help tell the farm-to-fridge story via a virtual field trip which included the bio of the company’s founder, thus combining topics like sourcing food and healthy eating with that of entrepreneurship. Over half a million students nationwide participated in the live virtual event.

As part of a middle school science and social studies unit, Ford Motor Company sponsored The Science of Flight, The Spirit of Innovation. The customized package was distributed to 15,000 school principals around the country and included videos, a teacher resource guide, and highlight’s of Henry Ford’s contributions to American innovation.

These strategic partnerships can offer a unique value to both the brand and the consumer, if executed well. The key is authenticity:

Message makes sense. Matching a yogurt company with a lesson on manufacturing and innovation would be questionable. Likewise a car company talking about farm-to-fridge. Choosing a topic which fits the brand on several levels will make the connection feel natural.

Integrity is key. A campaign’s content can’t be a glorified advertisement, plain and simple. Let the content stand on its own and offer a genuine value to its audience. The brand association will form organically, which is the goal.

Make it personal. By including the story of Chobani’s founder, their educational campaign personalized the journey – and gave another angle (entrepreneurship) to the lesson. Making a large company accessible in such a conversational way can go a long way in solidifying brand loyalty.

You don’t have to have global reach and a limitless budget to create a strong, content-based campaign. What you do need is the time to research and strategize with those who know the space. Our experts are ready to find the right match for you and to create a solid, memorable campaign for your brand. Give us a call at (203) 762-8833.


Leave a comment

Filed under BLOG, PR Tools and Tactics