It’s been a week since Nike caused an uproar over the company’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of the thirtieth anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” campaign.
Surprising no one, the backlash arrived swiftly, with fan discontent and boycott threats grabbing headlines. People opposed to the former NFL quarterback’s choice to take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism posted videos of themselves burning sneakers and issued calls to #boycottNike. President Donald Trump said Nike’s Kaepernick ad sends a “terrible message.”
Nike further stoked the flames by airing a “Just Do It” TV commercial voiced by Kaepernick Thursday night during the NFL’s regular-season opener.
But much of the social media has been more positive than negative with Nike fans cheering the brand’s bold casting move, including famous supporters like fellow Nike athlete Serena Williams, former LA Lakers champion Kobe Bryant and “Black Panther” star Michael B. Jordan.
“People say your dreams are crazy; if they laugh at what you think you can do, good,” Kaepernick, 30, says in the video. “Stay that way. Because what non-believers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult; it’s a compliment.”
The controversial campaign has been closely dissected from many corners. The following is a roundup:
- In less than 24 hours since Kaepernick first revealed the print spot on Twitter, Nike received more than $43 million worth of media exposure, the vast majority of it neutral to positive, Apex Marketing Group revealed to Bloomberg on September 4.
- Twenty-four hours after the Kaepernick announcement, there were 2.7 million social media mentions of Nike, which is a 1,400 percent increase compared to the previous day, according to social media analytics company Talkwalker. According to Reuters, calls for a boycott fed social media buzz about the campaign.
- On September 4, Prime Time Sports in Colorado Springs’ Chapel Hills Mall caught attention for becoming the first retailer, and the only public-announced one so far, to announce intentions to stop selling the Nike brand. According to KRDO, large signs on the store’s windows stated “All Nike 1/2 Price” and “Still Choosing to Stand, Just Doing It.”
- On September 5, YouGov, the polling firm, issued a report showing that 34 percent of U.S. adults have a positive opinion of Kaepernick, while 31 percent have a negative one. However, people who’ve purchased clothing or shoes from Nike in the past three months feel different. Overall, 46 percent of recent Nike customers have a favorable view of Kaepernick; 23 percent do not. This suggests that Kaepernick is more liked among consumers who buy Nike products than he is among the general public. Additional data indicates that recent Nike customers are more receptive to the idea of brands taking a stand on current issues than the average U.S. adult.
- On September 5, the College of the Ozarks, a private, Christian school in Point Lookout, MO, and an NCAA Division II level school, became the first university to cancel its contract with Nike over the Kaepernick ad. Jerry C. Davis, the university’s president, said in a statement, “In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America. If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them. We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.”
- On September 7, Truett McConnell University, a private Christian school in Georgia and a NCAA Division II school, announced Friday was parting ways with Nike. The school’s president, Dr. Emir Caner, said in a statement, “If Nike chooses to apologize to our troops and to our law enforcement officers, then–and only then–will TMU reconsider their brand. In the meanwhile, let us honor true heroes, those who protect us daily, some even sacrificing their own lives. They are the true heroes.”
- On September 10, news arrived that the mayor of Kenner, LA, had ordered playground booster clubs to stop wearing and buying any Nike products in a leaked memorandum dated September 5. According to the memo being circulated on social media and reported by USA Today, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn III wrote, “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility.”
- Last Tuesday, shares of Nike closed $2.60, or 3.2 percent on Tuesday, to $79.60 from $82.20 the first-trading day after Nike revealed the new campaign. On Friday, shares closed at $80.30 before recovering Monday to close at $82.10.
Photo courtesy Nike