Roger Goodell

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Nike just did it. The shoe giant is trending on Twitter in a big way for its #JustDoIt campaign, but not just because @Nike retweeted Colin Kaepernick. It’s the content of that tweet and what it represents — Nike is taking a stand on protests against injustice that Kaepernick led while he was in the NFL. No longer employed by the NFL, Kaepernick is still the face of those protests — which may begin again as football resumes this week.

Even though Republicans “care more about Super Bowl LII ads than any other political group,” according to recent Instart Logic research, a Reuters analysis of Big Game ads shows marketers are avoiding the subject of politics completely. That’s a football field away from last year’s ads, which deal with everything from the gender pay gap to immigration.

If NFL stood for "not for long" instead of "National Football League," the debate would center on how much more time it would take for its reputation to recover from a perceived cover-up of a crime—Ray Rice punching and knocking out his then-fiancé, now wife, Janay Palmer, in February in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Or "NFL" could continue to stand for what comes up in Twitter searches on Wednesday for the trending topic of #RayRice: "Related Searches: #nfl, #domesticviolence"

Are brands too sensitive? Should they be wary of opening themselves up to negative feedback on social channels, or take the risk in the hopes of deeper engagement with customers? A disturbing element of online behavior has real consequence for marketers who wish to be open with consumers. We recently discussed several social strategies for creating a more active dialog with important audiences. We got all excited about the benefits of hearing unvarnished feedback and being able to discuss issues with people in a forum where they would be comfortable being straight with us

The debate and frustration over the NFL’s use of replacement referees reached a whole new level Monday night when a blown call arguably cost the Green Bay Packers the game against the Seattle Seahawks. ...This incident does not bode well for a league that is said to be diminishing the quality of their product. However, these circumstances offer a valuable lesson to marketers and brand strategists—that is, that a brand can become so powerful that bouts of adversity can have little impact on a company’s bottom line.

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