Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick just became the face of a Nike ad campaign and for many upset football fans a reason to burn Nike products.
Nike is celebrating its 30th anniversary. On Monday, September 3rd, Nike released an ad for their “Just Do It” campaign in celebration of the anniversary featuring a photo of Kaepernick, an activist for racial injustice, that reads, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Starting in 2016, Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to protest against the oppression of people of color and police brutality in the United States.
The ex-NFL player sparked a fire of controversy, literally, over what some believed was disrespectful to the troops who have fought for the U.S.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Colin in 2016, according to the NFL. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The hashtags #boycottnike and #justburnit have flooded social media, with pictures and videos of people cutting off the Nike swoosh from their socks or lighting their Nike’s on fire. Setting shoes on fire to protest the views of the ex-football player didn’t seem to decrease the company’s sales. In fact, Nike sales have gone up by 31% since the photo’s release, according to NBC News.
Kaepernick claims that his intentions were never to disrespect the people who have fought for this country. After making the compromise to kneel instead of sitting down during the anthem with Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret and player for the NFL, Kaepernick spoke to reporters about his conversation with Boyer.
“We were talking to [Boyer] about how we can get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are,” said Kaepernick. “And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee. Because there are issues that still need to be addressed and it was also a way to show more respect to men and women who fought for this country.”
After telling the media over the years that he does support the military and stated his intentions for protesting racial injustice, some Nike owners still continue to boycott the brand.
As for Nike, the $28 billion brand, according to Brand Finance, marketing strategies like this have seem to show much success.
With the 31 percent increase in the brands sales, some say this is just another way for a big corporation such as Nike to make more money, having in mind that talk about social justice is on the rise.
“That is difficult as Nike supports child labor and social justice is somewhat on trend,” says Cian Ward, a Sacramento artist and activist. “That being said it is important for larger scale corporations to recognize the struggle and give it some more attention.”
Another Sacramento resident, Izzy Ignacio, who is a writer and a student, agrees that Nike didn’t take a risk at all, but people should not react in the extreme ways that are taking place.
“I think it’s fine and I don’t understand why people are getting worked up about it; he started a movement, no matter what your point of view on it is,” said Ignacio. “It is still a movement. Financially, it’s not even a big risk to Nike, they’ve always been sort of progressive and they have lots of money and their customers have always mostly been younger people and younger people at the moment are mostly liberal/progressive/democratic so it makes sense why they would use him.”
“We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes,” Gino Fisanotti, the Vice President of Nike told ESPN.
Regardless of people’s opinions and urges to destroy shoes and clothes that could actually just be donated to children in need, Nike is still the world’s most valuable apparel brand.