Nike has dove headfirst into controversy with the NFL. On Monday, the brand launched a new ad campaign featuring former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick. Before resigning from the 49er’s in 2016, Kaepernick became known for kneeling during the national anthem at games to protest police brutality targeted at black lives.
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything, #JustDoIt,” Kaepernick tweeted earlier this week, referencing the new ad.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
A mega-brand like Nike doesn’t just haphazardly turn out campaigns or powerful slogans. Of course, creatives at the brand were well aware of possible controversy and how that might impact sales. But according to a new report, the Kaepernick ad wasn’t all for the brand’s bottom line. While Nike protestors argue that this was simply a sales tactic riding on the coattails of a cultural trend, the report suggests the brand’s motives were more virtuous.
An “industry source” told TMZ that the majority of Nike’s customers come from “significantly urban” communities. With that in mind, the brand believes their message will be generally well received, despite conservative backlash. As an official NFL partner, Nike wants to continue to champion diversity, and be “a partner in social change,” even if that means the POTUS is coming for them.
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) September 4, 2018
The backlash began promptly the same day Kaepernick’s ad dropped. Those taking a stand against Nike argue that the brand is undermining the NFL and shedding a bad light on police. Some extremists have even posted pictures of them burning their clothing and shoes on Twitter.
— Athlon Sports (@AthlonSports) September 5, 2018
Meanwhile, an overwhelming amount of people online are calling out Nike protestors noting that the brand already “has their money.” Most agree that it would be a wiser choice to donate old Nike merch to veterans, rather than burn it. Burning merch and broadcasting the hateful act online additionally provides free publicity for the brand, as Trevor Noah points out. Oh, and it’s also kind of racist.