Colin Kaepernick is the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
In case you don’t know who he is, Kaepernick is the 49ers quarterback who generated controversy for kneeling during the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ (in August 2016) to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Yeah, that guy. And he hasn’t played since the 2016 season.
This is a fine example of great branding. While most brands will steer clear of taking a stand – especially on race relations – Nike has claimed the fight for racial equality as a tenet of its mission. And pissed off a lot of people in the process.
People are posting pictures of defaced Nike socks and shoes, declaring they will be switching to Adidas, Brooks or Converse (never mind that Nike owns Converse). Nike shares fell by 3% on Tuesday as calls for a boycott of the brand gained traction on social media.
Undeterred, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America said, “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward.”
Nike knows that being true to who they are and what they believe is more important than being all things to all people. Hats off to them I say.