Nike Delivers Inspiring Message for the Coronavirus Era: ‘Play Inside, Play for the World’

As the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered gyms and suspended sports leagues across the globe, Nike has a new message for fans: Stay inside.

“If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world,” the Beaverton, Ore.-based company posted across its social media channels alongside its Swoosh branding.

The coronavirus crisis has forced brands to rethink their marketing campaigns, as the usual influencer vacation images and “Fresh Spring Looks” email aren’t landing with customers right now. Instead, brands are better off coming up with a way to “create goodwill and lock in arm-in-arm with consumers” amidst the crisis, Marc Beckman, CEO and founder of advertising agency DMA United, told FN last week.

“We’re living in a time where digital consumers in particular are less loyal than ever before. It would be very powerful for brands to make decisions from a marketing perspective that will resonate with the consumer after this crisis,” Beckham told FN.

In addition to urging social media followers to stay home, Nike made a financial commitment last week of more than $15 million toward fighting the coronavirus.

Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman emeritus; Mark Parker, former CEO and current executive chairman of the board; and John Donahoe, the company’s new president and CEO are donating $10 million across three organizations. The execs and their families have pledged $1 million to the Oregon Food Bank, $2 million to the Oregon Community Recovery Fund and $7 million to Oregon Health & Science University.

The Nike Foundation, meanwhile, is contributing $1 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and $1.1 million to support community partners in Europe, the Middle East and Africa through the King Baudouin Foundation. On its domestic turf, the Swoosh will dole out $250,000 to the Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis, $250,000 to the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis’ COVID-19 Regional Response Fund and $500,000 to the Boston Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, as well as $1 million to the Oregon Community Recovery Fund in Nike’s home state.

The new batch of donations is in addition to the $1.4 million that Nike donated to the China Youth Development Fund in January to help provide front-line workers with equipment and supplies needed to treat patients.

While Nike is continuing to take online orders, the athletic giant has temporarily shuttered its entire fleet of U.S. stores, as well as units in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe. Throughout the closure period, it is continuing to pay store associates.

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