Nike has taken a mis-step. A controversial ad. Hot and angry responses, including a share slide, were not anticipated. But this is what the brand has been receiving. Did Nike think that using NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, in one of its Just Do It 30th anniversary ad would be controversial? Possibly. Nike has released provocative ads before. In 1995, it featured Los Angeles marathon runner, Ric Munoz, who was HIV positive in a campaign.
Kaepernick is the footballer, who sat and then kneeled during the national anthem in 2016 as protest against racial injustice in the US while he was playing for the San Francisco 49ers. He has not played since and has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, which he claims locked him out of signing with a team following his protest. He has been in Nike’s fold of athletes since 2011. But Nike is a not only a corporate sponsor but also the official uniform provider for the league.
The copy in Kaepernick’s teaser ad on social media reads, Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
Social media lit up with anti-Nike posts, including Nikes that had been set on fire, socks that had had the Nike logo cut off them and threats to leave Nike for other brands.
— John Rich (@johnrich) September 3, 2018
— stefan heck (@boring_as_heck) September 4, 2018
getting a nike tattoo on my arm and then cutting off my arm and throwing my cut off arm into the ocean
— matt ? lubchansky (@Lubchansky) September 4, 2018
The full anniversary campaign features a selection of Nike athletes – Odell Beckham Jr, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Seattle Seahawks linebacker, Shaquem Griffin, and skateboarder Lacey Baker – who are missing out on their 15 minutes of fame today.