Buy it or burn it? That is the question consumers are asking since Nike took a risk in making former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of their 30th anniversary slogan campaign.
Since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco’s 49er’s, Kaepernick has yet to land with another team — until now.
Kaepernick posted a photo on Instagram last week on Monday officially announcing his involvement with a team, only it wasn’t an NFL team. Kaepernick joined team Nike. What a way to give the quarterback another chance to speak his piece.
In the photo, a simple yet powerful sentence is centered in the middle of Kaepernick’s face saying, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Yes, Nike just did that.
In 2016, Kaepernick began a controversial movement when he started kneeling during the national anthem before each season game, in protest against civil rights issues such as police brutality and social injustice. His silent action spoke volumes and sparked a national conversation.
Although making Kaepernick front and center of the campaign, as a disputed figure in today’s political world, was a bold move, it was also genius marketing.
People have been trying to expose police brutality, social injustice and discrimination for years using social media, hashtags, videos, etc.; Nike simply joined the fight. The large conglomerate unapologetically gave Kaepernick an opportunity to voice his message across an even larger platform.
Nike is risking it all, image and reputation as well as profit sales in hopes that the number of consumers who support this move would far outweigh those who don’t. They may be right. According to The Guardian, Nike sales increased 31% just days after the ad reveal.
NBA player Lebron James, in an appearance at a fashion event in New York said he supports “anyone who believes in change…I stand with Nike all day, every day.”
Others, however, are less than pleased with Nike’s big move. Upset consumers are boycotting the brand and even going as far as burning their Nike shoes, cutting their Nike Elite socks and posting them online with the hashtag #NikeBoycott to express how displeased they are.
The people who are unsupportive of this movement are choosing ignorance by burning their expensive items they’ve paid for instead of trying to address the real issues at hand. They’re completely missing the point of the struggles that minorities have dealt with in this country for hundreds of years.
Kaepernick has always been aware of what he’s doing and knows that his words and actions will not sit well with some people. But he looks for no one’s approval, especially from those who do not understand what he’s trying to do. According to NFL news, although he jeopardized his career and future endorsements, he knows he stood up for what is right.
Although Nike took a huge risk, the polarity the campaign momentarily drew attention to is only a symptom of a larger problem in this country.
I applaud Nike. It’s time for other brands to follow its example and stand up for social justice.
Although the focus shifted, the whole campaign was meant to honor the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.” What a more clever way to say “just do it” by actually just doing it. Nike took a knee without worrying about the consequences.