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Nike is harnessing its brand power for a coronavirus PSA. More brands should follow

Star athletes from LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo to Carli Lloyd and Michael Jordan all spread the message by posting Nike’s new ad to Instagram.

Nike is harnessing its brand power for a coronavirus PSA. More brands should follow
Carli Lloyd (left) and LeBron James (right). [Photos: Flickr user Jamie Smed (Lloyd); Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images (James)]
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Few brands have as much reach, influence, and cultural cachet as Nike.

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Over the weekend, the company sought to tap into that power with a simple new ad that aimed not to sell more sneakers but rather to get people to take seriously the concept of social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Created with long-time agency Wieden + Kennedy, the ad was reposted by a laundry list of Nike athletes, with many autographing the bottom to add a more personal touch to the endorsement. From LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo to Carli Lloyd and Michael Jordan, all spread the message by posting Nike’s new ad to Instagram.

Of course, Ronaldo managed to find a way to work his muscles into the message.

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The swoosh isn’t the only major brand that made a crisis-specific ad.

On Sunday, Coke made a similar move with a single ad in New York’s Times Square.

Nike, its leaders, and its foundation are also donating $15 million to various response efforts. While many brands are stepping up with charitable donations—supporting causes like Feeding America, among others—to assist in the efforts dealing with the crisis, the longer this goes on and the more people ignore the requests to stay home, more brands with advertising space and influence should be stepping up to use it to sell their audiences on being a part of the solution.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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