Nike campaign tests ‘all publicity is good publicity’ adage
Nike has courted controversy with its latest “Just Do It” campaign, which includes an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, who gained notoriety in 2016 when he refused to stand for the National Anthem in protest of the mistreatment of minorities in the U.S.
The new ad features a tight black and white shot of Mr. Kaepernick’s face with copy that reads: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The former quarterback has not found a job in the league since declaring for free agency in March 2017. Mr. Kaepernick has filed a legal complaint against the NFL alleging collusion among teams to keep him out of the league.
The NFL did not comment on the pending legal matter or the Nike campaign, but did issue a statement from Jocelyn Moore, the league’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs.
“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities,” said Ms. Moore. “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
As word of Mr. Kaepernick’s inclusion in the new campaign got out, protests spread across social media with some calling for a boycott of the Nike brand. Others rose to the brand’s and Mr. Kaepernick’s defense. Whether consumers were for or against Nike, it’s clear that Mr. Kaepernick’s inclusion has led to increased media exposure — roughly $43 million worth, according to Apex Marketig Group. Nike’s stock was down 3.2 percent in trading yesterday.
Those who oppose players kneeling during the National Anthem have pointed to declining television ratings the past couple of years as indication that the peaceful protests are behind decreases in revenues for the NFL. Reporting by The Atlantic and others, however, show the declines are part of a longer downward trend that can be tied to a number of factors, including consumer cord-cutting, non-competitive games and the nation’s dysfunctional political environment that often plays more like a reality TV show than news. In the end, the NFL and its franchise owners continue to do quite well financially, with the average franchise valued at $2.5 billion, according to Forbes.
- Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Campaign Keeps N.F.L. Anthem Kneeling in Spotlight – The New York Times
- NFL: Issues raised by Kaepernick deserve attention – NFL.com
- Kaepernick Campaign Created $43 Million in Buzz for Nike – Bloomberg
- Nike shares fall as backlash erupts over new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick – CNBC
- Yes, NFL Viewership Is Down. No, It’s Not All Trump. – The Atlantic
- The Dallas Cowboys Head The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams At $4.8 Billion – Forbes
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Nike sales be hurt or helped as a result of including Colin Kaepernick in the brand’s new “Just Do It” campaign?