In September, the internet was hit with images of £100 trainers being set on fire as #BoycottNike trended. It was a hysterical response to Nike’s latest “Just do it” advert with Colin Kaepernick, but, ultimately, it’s one that’s working in its favour.
The ad in question features Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who in 2016 began kneeling rather than standing during the US national anthem. He was protesting the unjust killing of black Americans by police officers. As a result, Kaepernick has been effectively barred from playing by NFL team owners who refuse to hire him despite his widely acknowledged skills.
Written across Kaepernick’s photo, along with the brand’s signature “Swoosh” are the words: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
There has been a social media backlash since the campaign’s release. A Louisiana mayor has prohibited the use of Nike’s products by his city’s recreation programmes. President Donald Trump has also, unsurprisingly, tweeted against the ad: “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?”
Nike obviously predicted the fallout, but the backlash and media attention have done a lot of good for them. This was a conscious decision by Nike. Brands such as Nike can be more daring in their endorsements as they have a better understanding of where their customers’ allegiances lie.
The people who don’t like Colin Kaepernick could be stereotyped as living in a retirement community in Florida and they probably were not going to be spending £150 on Nike trainers anyway. With Nike their demographic is going to be more urban and cosmopolitan and would likely be liberal. Nike’s Kaepernick ad has done two things: increased their profits and strengthened both the company’s and Kaepernick’s brand.
Nike CEO Mark Parker said the company’s use of Kaepernick in the ad has resulted in “record engagement with the brand.”
“We know it’s resonating quite strongly with consumers here in North America and around the world.”
Since the Kaepernick ads ran, Nike’s stock has risen 6.25 percent, adding $6.38 billion £4.84 billion to the company’s value. Yep, Nike and Kaepernick just did it!