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Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Ad Controversy

Melody Yang, Writer

Nike’s most recent partnership with Colin Kaepernick, an athlete in the National Football League (NFL), sparked much controversy from the public. Nike’s ad campaign focused on the athlete and his values have led to much opposition from public figures, a university, and even their own customers, while others show their support. But what exactly led to this divide of opinions?

Kaepernick, the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, is most known for protesting racial injustice and police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem in 2016, starting the #TakeAKnee movement. This movement sparked both positive and negative responses. Kaepernick later explained his actions by stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Supporters of Kaepernick quickly began voicing their opinions and other football players copied his actions by kneeling during the national anthem. However, many people also opposed this movement. Some left the stadium after witnessing the protests, while others chose to completely stop watching the games. Even President Donald Trump expressed his disapproval when he tweeted that NFL players who refused to stand during the national anthem should be fired for disrespecting the American flag. Kaepernick became a very polarizing figure as a result of his actions and form of protest.

Nike’s recent decision to partner with Kaepernick was rooted in its desire to show the public how it hopes to become “a partner in social change” with the athlete. The already polarizing Kaepernick sparked yet more debate with his new ad campaign. Those who oppose this campaign see a society and company caving into politically correct opinions, while supporters see Nike believing in Kaepernick’s message: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” While some think that Nike is doing the right thing by supporting social change, others believe that the company has gone too far by meddling in political affairs. Many people even took to recording themselves destroying their Nike merchandise. Despite the opposition to this advertisement, polls show that the campaign did hit the target audience, which is 18 to 29-year-old males. ESPN reported that 21% of people surveyed said that they would stop buying from the brand while 19% said that they would buy more, and 29% of the target group would also buy more from Nike. So although Nike’s ad didn’t receive the warmest welcome from the public, it achieved its goal by increasing its sales.

Nike’s advertising campaign featuring Kaepernick split the public’s opinion about both the brand and the athlete. Much controversy was created, with some people supporting Nike’s cause and other opposing it. At the very end of the ad, a message reads, “It’s only crazy until you do it. Just do it,” and that is exactly what Nike has done.

Photo courtesy of BROCKPRESS.COM

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Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Ad Controversy