Nigel Powell | Influence 100

Nigel Powell 

EVP, Chief Communications Officer 



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 surely seen every conceivable stakeholder issue, demonstrating a deft media touch while 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?
I’m fortunate to see the direct impact of our communications team on the business every day through the work they do for the Nike, Jordan and Converse brands.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Communications has never been more needed or valued in society. The industry still needs to inspire and invite more diverse, smart, creative people to be part of communications and help shape it for an exciting future.

What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?

What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
As in previous years – a lack of innovation.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Working out, watching sport, talking with family and friends and writing.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I’ve been inspired by the work of two artists – one who is young and at an early stage of his career and one who is older and continues to innovate: Ben Sledsens and David Hockney.

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

Sum up 2021 in one word.