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The Colin Kapernick Controversy and Nike's Campaign

By Holly Williams
On October 24, 2018

Nike's campaign was well-executed and speaks to any crowd.
Photo Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times

Nike has always been a hot spot in athletic apparel and shoes. Its familiar check mark is a symbol of speed and movement. Victory is in the sole of those who put on their fresh Jordan’s in the morning.

Nike has always had a knack for great ads and consistently putting out quality products. They make the wearer feel like they can accomplish anything, and allow them to believe in him or herself.

On Sept. 3, Nike launched itself back into the center of the public in a big way. Former football player Colin Kapernick, was the star and narrator of Nike’s new ad, which also featured a range of athletes, including Serena Williams and LeBron James. The ad showcases inspirational sports-related stories, while Kapernick encourages all types of athletes to be the best at whatever they do. The ad finishes with Kapernick saying, “So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough.”

In 2016, Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem, to protest police brutality. He was accused of disrespecting U.S Military and veterans. Even President Trump called for protesting players during the anthem to be fired. Upon Nike’s announcement that Kaepernick would star in their new campaign, people threatened to boycott. Many made videos and responses of them destroying their Nike shoes and socks. Trump said it was “leaving a terrible message,” but I believe he’s wrong. Nike clearly weighed the risk to run this campaign, and positioned it tactfully. I thought that the ad was truly inspirational.

Nike’s ad featured a lot of diverse athletes, who all had their own story and obstacles to overcome. They even featured a woman wearing a hijab, and others in different countries. According to Time Magazine, Nike sales increased 31 percent in online sales. Its stock has risen 5 percent.

The overall result from this controversial and edgy ad lead to positive numbers and support for Nike. It has inspired the millennial crowd to support their brand. I fully support Nike’s ad and their decision to use Kaepernick.

I don’t believe the ad would have been as effective if they used any other athlete. They calculated the risk. So did Kaepernick when he protested. I think that their campaign was well executed and speaks to any crowd, especially those who aspire to succeed through athletics.

I only wish that Nike continued to release new materials, ads, etc., after the Kaepernick feature. This would have been the perfect opportunity to have Colin Kaepernick showcase a new pair of Nike shoes, and to run it up on different social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram. I think that it would have been smart to run a sale on their website too, which would have encouraged buyers to purchase more than they even intended. I think that the Nike spotlight was too short, especially considering that it was such a controversial.

Although there are a few changes that I would make, I think that Nike did an excellent job with this campaign. I think that executed everything very well, and did a great job reaching out to a newer crowd: millennials. What is amazing to me is that they were able to highlight the fact that through all of this diversity, almost all of us have one goal: success.

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