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Nike risk sacrificing everything to believe in Kaepernick

By Travis Politakis

Over the past few years, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been the center of attention in bringing social justice awareness to national attention.  Kaepernick was one of the first NFL players to openly kneel during the national anthem and would later go on to found his “Know Your Rights” foundation. On Sunday, Sept. 3, Nike announced that they would be teaming up with Kaepernick, and using him as the face of their new campaign. The contract includes an apparel line of shirts, shoes, hats and jerseys, and also includes a yearly salary that will be donated to Kaepernick’s foundation, “Know your rights.”

Despite not having played a snap in the NFL since 2016, Kaepernick has had one of the highest selling jerseys in the NFL over the last few years which maybe was one economic reason why Nike decided to sign Kaepernick.

Kaepernick was the star of Nike’s newest commercial ad, which aired on Thursday, Sept. 6. The add is said to have other star athletes appear, such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Serena Williams. Kaepernick’s slogan, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” refers to how he was cut from the 49ers, after his actions in bringing attention to social justice.

There have been a variety of reactions across the nation after people heard the news.

Some people reacted by destroying their Nike apparel and setting fire to their shoes, while others have purchased even more Nike products and admiring the brave decision made by Kaepernick and Nike.

President Donald Trump recently took to Twitter saying, “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?” NFL Executive VP Jocelyn Moore praised Kaepernick saying, “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”

Kaepernick is receiving praise from all across the sports world. NBA superstar LeBron James took to social media to show his praise, as well as other star athletes such as Chris Paul and NFL star Cam Newton. Newton said in a press conference monday, “I have always respected Colin as a man and for what he stands for, so I am extremely happy for him and respect him”.

Although Nike has been receiving backlash on social media, the amount of attention the company is receiving is benefiting the company immensely. According to Time, Nike has

gained more than $43 million of media exposure. Many sports marketing executives admire

Nike’s bold move and think that this move will benefit the company, despite the company’s three percent drop in shares.

According to analysis by BrandZ, Nike is the most valuable clothing brand, ranking above Adidas, Under Armour and many other big name clothing brands. The company would not have made the bold move, if they knew it would seriously damage the company.

Business writer Sarah Halzack said, “If any company can walk this tightrope successfully, it’s Nike.” A consumer tracking source, YouGov, found 46 percent of Nike consumers have a positive view of Kaepernick, compared to the public’s 34 percent. A decent amount of Nike customers are millennials and Generation Z, so this move was very smart for Nike, showing that they know their consumers.

Nike has dealt with these controversial situations before, as they backed PGA legend Tiger Woods amid his sex scandal in 2009, when many other brands let him go. Nike is embracing this challenge, and aiming to shed more light on social justice.

Travis Politakis can be reached at travis.politakis@spartans.ut.edu

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