Nike has just dropped a new advertisement on YouTube featuring former San Francisco 40ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as well as Lebron James, Serena Williams, and a host of other athletes.
Just two days prior to the launch of the ad, Kaepernick had shared a photo on Twitter showing himself featured in Nike’s new marketing campaign, which is tied with the 30th anniversary of its world-renowned slogan “Just Do It.”
Due to the athlete’s infamous activism, the campaign has rapidly gone viral, spurring waves of either support or backlash. #NikeBoycott had trended on Twitter by Tuesday morning, while Nike shares slumped as Wall Street absorbed the news.
Kaepernick grabbed the starlight when, in order to protest racial injustice, he decided to kneel instead of standing for the national anthem before a 2016 National Football League preseason game. He is currently unsigned with an NFL team. He claims that the organization conspired to prevent him from getting signed to a team when he became a free agent.
The NFL, unsurprisingly, denied the allegation. A hearing is set on the matter before this year ends.
In spite of the athlete’s appearance in the advertisement, the new Nike commercial didn’t appear to be overly political for many viewers. It didn’t make any reference to “taking a knee.” Rather, it emphasized the inspirational tone that Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign has been carrying.
Kaepernick, who was the narrator of the video, started the ad by saying: “If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do – good, stay that way, because what nonbelievers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult; it’s a compliment.”
The video runs through various images of professional athletes like Williams and James before their sports careers catapulted, still in their youth.
The roughly 2-minute video finished with Kaepernick stating, “So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”
Tons of comments have flooded the internet since the campaign featuring Kaepernick was established. According to some industry analysts, Nike might win over some consumers who feel more sympathetic to the player’s cause.
On the flip side, there have also been numerous images and videos of people burning their Nike shoes posted on Twitter, along with vows never to buy Nike products again.
“When you are an extraordinary brand you are going to be polarizing,” said Allen Adamson, who is a brand expert and co-founder of marketing solutions business Metaforce. “There’s going to be some short-term bumpiness because of this campaign, but the best brands need to manage for the long-term.”
President Donald Trump later posted a tweet about the tie-up and reaction on social media. “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?”
Even though Nike shares dropped 3 percent on Tuesday, the stock is up more than 50 percent over the past year. On Wednesday the hares finished higher less than 1 percent.
In addition, in less than 24 hours, one group stated that Nike already received higher than $43 million worth of media exposure, mostly on the positive side.
“Right now what his means is they are winning the battle from the public relations side,” said Eric Smallwood, who is the president of Apex Marketing Group. The group gauged the branding exposure of the sports company.
Further, analysts argued that Nike’s target audience of consumers stretches far outside of the United States and that many shoppers globally won’t be paying much attention to the Kaepernick featuring. The retailer’s goal apparently is to connect with a younger generation that puts more thought into what their favorite brands stand for before they make purchases.
“Most people aren’t looking to make political decisions with their sneaker purchases,” said Nomura analyst Simeon Siegel. “But whenever a brand attaches its logo to someone else’s face, they are making a calculated cost benefit analysis that is something that has been core to Nike’s DNA.”
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