What’s Up With Nike?

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Nike's 30th "Just Do It" campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. (via Colin Kaepernick, @Kaepernick7 on Twitter)

Priscilla Le, Managing Editor

Anyone who has been keeping up with current events or has been on social media within the past couple weeks is aware of the public controversy with the Nike sports brand. Videos of consumers burning Nike products such as shoes and athletic wear have gone viral online, but why are so many people losing support for this popular brand.

On September 3rd, 2018, Nike announced NFL veteran, Colin Kaepernick, as one of the faces of Nike’s new campaign to commemorate its 30th anniversary of it’s “Just Do It” slogan. The reason this has sparked controversy is that in 2016, the former quarterback began protesting racial injustice in the United States by choosing to kneel during the national anthem at football games instead of standing. His actions induced many different responses from people all across the country, both positive and negative. Supporters of his protests included other NFL athletes joining him and his behavior was even copied in other American sports. Critics, however, did things such as boycotting watching the games, leaving stadiums after protests took place, and even suggested that players who protested should be fired.

 

This argument has gone viral once again with the Nike brand now under tremendous criticism for making Kaepernick the face of their most recent campaign. Critics retaliated by posting videos of lighting Nike merchandise on fire in an attempt to protest against the brand’s decisions. However, many have pointed out that this does nothing to hurt the brand’s profits, as consumers are burning products they’ve already purchased. In fact, sales have increased by over 31% since Labor Day weekend, have sold out of 61% more merchandise, and have also been able to cut their amount of discounted items by over one third. So although Nike took a brief hit when first releasing their campaign featuring Kaepernick, their sales and stocks have been increasingly skyrocketing as the brand actively turns controversy into profits.

 

Nike’s ad featuring American tennis player, Serena Williams (via Nike, @Nike on Twitter)

Colin Kaepernick has also benefitted from this ongoing debate. After naming himself a “free-agent” since the original kneeling incidents, Kaepernick’s lawyer has stated that two teams have shown interest for signing the quarterback. Representative in Kaepernick’s lawsuit against the NFL, Mark Geragos, has hinted that the two teams are the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders.

 

Other athletes such as basketball player, LeBron James, and American tennis player, Serena Williams, who is also a face in Nike’s 30th “Just Do It” campaign, have expressed their support for Nike’s decision of featuring Colin Kaepernick. On September 4th, James concluded an acceptance speech by saying, “I stand with Nike, all day, every day.” Serena Williams also tweeted the day after Nike launched its Kaepernick ad that she was “especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today.”