Nike had made a chess move, not one of checkers. Inspirational on and off the field, Colin Rand Kaepernick has been the prominent figure in the black activist community. African-Americans have been victims of police brutality for years and years on end, yet no justice has been served. While in the National Football League, Kaepernick started a movement of kneeling during the national anthem that provoked controversy across the country.
Most African Americans within the NFL stood behind him in the protest and agreed to use their platform to represent the black lives that were lost due to police brutality. As a free agent after the 2016 season, Kaepernick did not find a permanent football home from his previous team, the San Francisco 49ers. Speculations arose that teams did not offer him a position on their team because of Kaepernick’s public advocacy against injustices.
Since the NFL plays a huge part in the culture of the United States, Nike, the world’s largest supplier and manufacturer of athletic shoes, apparel and other sports equipment, recognized the large-scale impact of Kaepernick. This led to he and many other inspirational athletes to be the face of the “Just Do It” ad.
“There was risk of upsetting its partnership with the NFL and of potentially upsetting a portion of the NFL’s fan base that’s become turned off by player protests. Nike, which has a history of pushing boundaries in advertising campaigns, proceeded anyway,” reported by usatoday.com. “It took an intervention from Nigel Powell, Nike’s head of communications before Nike decided to support Kaepernick.”
Nike sales grew over 31 percent just in the weekend after the advertisement aired during the NFL season opener on Thursday, September 6. Even though Nike gained revenue, protests began to erupt from those that own and invest Nike apparel. Every social media outlet displayed protesters videotaping themselves setting their swoosh logos on fire. These events gained the attention of President Donald Trump.
“Cashing in on Kaepernick’s activism to bolster the gravitas of ‘Just Do It’ is a clever marketing tactic, a way for Nike to access the social cachet of resistance efforts without altering its own corporate DNA”, according to an article written by theatlantic.com, which discussed the unexpected peak in Nike’s stocks after releasing the advertisement.
Having received more awards for his activism than for his performance as an NFL player, it is clear to see where he wants to prioritize his legacy. The “Best Breakthrough Athlete” ESPY Award, Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, Ambassador of Conscience Award, and Courageous Advocate Award are just to name a few of Kaepernick’s accomplishments. The bequest that Kaepernick has laid for the nation will go beyond just this generation but continue to thrive for years after our existence.
“There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust,” Colin said in an interview while talking about his protests. “That’s something that this country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”