Just a few weeks ago, Adam Kirby authored a blog post, which outlined “The ingredients of creating and developing a successful campaign” and upon reflection, it is clear that “Dream Crazy” ticks almost all these boxes. Specifically, the idea that campaigns should be bigger than simply selling your firm or your products; they should in fact draw attention to wider issues and (where appropriate) seek positive change. In this case, Nike can be seen to be supporting Colin Kaepernick’s attempts to highlight the issue of police brutality against African-Americans, something that isn’t necessarily directly related to the company’s products or their financial interest, but rather one that promotes a moral imperative.

It is also clear the campaign is ultimately an emotional one, based on the varying responses that have littered social media. The negative responses, which have gained substantial traction in the news, have been very strong, with some Nike customers going as far as burning products they have bought from the brand, while President Trump has used this as fuel to re-ignite his existing feud with the NFL. There is of course also reason to question Nike’s motives in addressing such an emotive issue. Despite all of this however, it is widely acknowledged that overall, this campaign has been a successful one, with Nike’s online sales rising by 31% over the holiday weekend.

While this is an extreme (and certainly consumer-focused) example, the Nike campaign does serve to highlight a number of points that all businesses can learn from. Chief among these is that, in an increasingly discerning consumer-driven society, companies need to demonstrate awareness of the ‘bigger picture’ and differentiate themselves from their peers via ambitious campaigns that address a specific need or issue, rather than seeking to sell a product.

For the financial services sector, this is a particularly pertinent lesson, given the rise in importance of ESG over recent decades and with emergence of a millennial generation that is much more conscious of the implications of their actions and investments.

Specifically within asset management, there would appear a particularly sizeable opportunity to benefit commercially by highlighting some of the key issues in our society and set about attempting to correct them. There is no shortage of issues to address – the savings and retirement crisis; diversity within the corporate world; environmental sustainability; the production of dangerous and harmful products, to name but a few. And with hundreds, if not thousands of fund managers competing for attention within a finite investment market, those businesses able to successfully identify and address these issues through proactive marketing communications are likely to enjoy significant competitive advantages.