Nigel Powell | Influence 100
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Nigel Powell 

EVP, Chief Communications Officer 
Nike
US

 

 

 Nike is no stranger to communications challenges. And perhaps the biggest of them all came in 2018, when the company considered cutting ties with Colin Kaepernick. Instead, the activist NFL star became the centerpiece of Nike’s 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign, thanks in large part to the intervention of Nigel Powell, who persuaded his company that sticking with Kaepernick was the only authentic course of action. That decision has surely been vindicated, with the subsequent campaign since becoming a bellwether moment for brand activism, at a company that has always been more comfortable than most when it comes to taking a stand.

Through his 20-year career with Nike, Powell has demonstrated a deft media touch, overseeing such areas as global brand management, youth marketing, influencer communications, corporate reputation and crisis management. The Briton oversees a team of 250 professionals at Nike, after ascending into the top comms role in 2005, and guides corporate, consumer and employee communications activities for Nike Inc., including the Nike brand, Converse, the Jordan Brand and Hurley. Nike’s Global Community Impact teams also report to Powell. Before joining the company, Powell worked in both agency and in-house roles in London and Brussels.
with Edelman.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
At Nike, I’m fortunate to see the impact of a highly talented team who constantly generate excitement on a global scale for our brands and introduce consumers to new and innovative products that often sell out in minutes.

What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
To inspire more diverse, smart, creative people to join the industry and then to ensure their voices are heard and create impact.

What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
Those who are not constrained by organizational structures and limitations of the old-school agency model.

What has most disappointed you about this industry in 2020?
Lack of innovation.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Working out at home instead of going to the gym, cooking and enjoying great dinners, watching Patriot Act, The Daily Show and lots of movies with my family.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Pretty much everything written by James Baldwin.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A theatre director.

Sum up 2020 in one word.
Dreadful.