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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?
At Nike, Jordan and Converse we see it constantly.
What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Society overtly needs communicators. We have an opportunity to bring more talented, diverse, nuanced and creative people into the industry.
What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?Spending time with family and friends and working out.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
Alice Oseman’s ‘Heartstopper’.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A theatre director.
Sum up 2022 in one word.
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