Colin Kaepernick’s new advertising gig with Nike has resurrected his controversial protest during the playing of our national anthem. Nike has decided to use Kaepernick’s notoriety stemming from his efforts to expose inequality in America to boost sales and make a social statement. But is Nike ill advised in getting involved with such an inflammatory situation not germane to its business?
If more sales are Nike’s objectives it seems to be counterintuitive to alienate half of America that is offended by Kaepernick’s actions. Conservatives and liberals buy Nike products.
If Nike wants to show support for those who think America is fraught with inequities, they probably should have developed a more productive campaign. The commercial, in effect, encourages skate boarders to attempt dangerous tricks- a particularly odd metaphor for never giving up when times are tough.
Kaepernick has not given up and that is the issue. His persistence about denigrating our flag coupled with some really poor play with the San Francisco Forty-Niners ended his career. Other teams avoided him like the plague.
Nevertheless Kaepernick was supported by many football players and by athletes in other sports to a limited extent. Most of them realize that dissing our country is not the best way to encourage social change.
Football fans are particularly nationalistic and the backlash against this type of protest has been strong. Some say that ticket holders around the country are disappointed that football team owners have not been stronger in their reaction to Kaepernick, and more encouraging about exposing inequity off the field.
I would love to have been in the board member when Nike’s CEO presented this great idea to use Kaepernick in a new ad. The company’s stock price tanked the day after the announcement. It has leveled off since then. Nike is potentially creating a schism with many of its customers. From a business perspective the campaign is too risky.
Look for the ad during the new football season and make up your own mind.