Nike has incited controversy with their new ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, known for being one of the NFL players that took a knee during the national anthem. The ad features Kaepernick’s face with the phrase “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
The campaign generated over $43 million in media exposure in the first 24 hours after Kaepernick shared it on Twitter, the majority of it neutral or positive. But many consumers are upset at Nike for partnering with an “unpatriotic” spokesman. Many people posted pictures and video of themselves burning and ripping up their Nike apparel. President Donald Trump even weighed in on the controversy, saying that the ads send a “terrible message.”
There are also questions about whether the campaign will create problems in Nike’s relationship with the NFL, since Nike is an official supplier. Kaepernick hasn’t been on a roster since 2016 – and is suing the league.
Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing executive at Baker Street Advertising, says that the campaign is a move only a company like Nike could make, demonstrating that they are edgy and willing to take risks.
Howe Burch, the former head of U.S. marketing for Reebok, remarked:
Nike cares most about the category influencers and tastemakers — nearly all of whom will embrace their decision. They know they will lose some customers short-term but not the kind of customers that really drive their business.
What do you think? Will the campaign ultimately work in Nike’s favor, or will their choice leave a lasting negative impact?