Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Beaverton, OR, United States (4E) – Nike’s bet the divisiveness Colin Kaepernick brought to the NFL won’t translate into a marketing disaster was put to a severe test the same day it announced the controversial quarterback as the face of its new multi-million dollar ad campaign.
America’s leading sportswear brand yesterday made Kaepernick the centerpiece of its “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad campaign. The first image of this campaign is a close-up, black/white image of Kaepernick’s face on which is superimposed the caption, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
And, as can be expected, liberals loved it while conservatives hated it. Nike’s stock took an initial hit, falling three percent on Tuesday.
Ominously, right wingers are calling for a boycott of Nike, which is an unsuccessful tactic they used against Dick’s Sporting Goods. Dick’s decided to ban the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines in the wake of the Parkland school massacre in Florida. Donald Trump is expected to abuse Nike in tweets that could come as early as Wednesday.
The NFL 2018 Regular Season starts Sept. 6 and Nike is going to have a pretty good idea come Thursday if recruiting Kaepernick is going down well with fans. And, by the way, Kaepernick remains unsigned. He last played for the NFL in 2016.
Nike signed Kaepernick in 2011 and has kept him on its endorsement roster since that time despite their not using him. Making him the star of their ad campaign this season is a huge gamble, and Nike knows it.
Nike, which called Kaepernick “one of the inspirational athletes of his generation,” conducted a poll before this brouhaha began. It said it received 36,000 responses. Of this total, 29% said Nike’s use of Kaepernick made the respondents want to buy more Nike products. On the other hand, 21% said they are now less likely to buy Nike products while 50% had no opinion.
It seems the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is still viewed as a hero to many for standing up for social issues even if it meant the NFL ultimately booting him out of his job. Kaepernick then sued NFL owners for colluding to lock him out of the league.
Kaepernick recently won the summary judgment phase of his collusion case against the NFL. This paves the way for a trial to take place. Kaepernick, who is half-white, became the face of social justice and the fight against racism and police brutality when he took a knee during the national anthem.
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