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One More Word on Colin Kaepernick

The controversial Nike ad featuring Kaepernick has one motive— to make money. PHOTO/ Alba Vigaray

By Austin Santiago

Published: September 26th, 2018

It has been said that controversy creates cash. If that statement is true, it is no wonder that Nike is worth over $130 billion.

The sneaker company seemingly entered troubled waters over the Labor Day weekend, naming former NFL quarterback turned social activist, Colin Kaepernick, as the face of their “Just do it” campaign.

Nike has had many different campaigns around the same slogan, but this one is different because this campaign marks the thirty-year anniversary of the trademark slogan.

After 30 years of legendary athletes including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Bo Jackson, Nike decided to commemorate this historic landmark with someone who hasn’t played a sport for two years. This is a great thing, but it is not what you think it is.

Despite the wonderful gesture made by Nike for choosing Kaepernick, as well as the incredible platform it has given to his cause in the weeks following, it is important to remember that this groundbreaking Nike ad is not about Kaepernick, the NFL, the right to kneel, or the freedom of speech. It is about one thing and one thing only – money.

The decision to make Kaepernick the face of the ad campaign was more than likely studied and deliberated by the executives of Nike with the same attention to detail as meteorologists tracking an incoming storm, and this storm was massive.

Within hours of the announcement, social media sites were flooded with pictures and videos of scorned Nike customers burning their shoes, socks, shirts, and anything within reach that had Nikes’ patented swoosh logo on it.

While many social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, became battlegrounds for those who do and do not agree with Kaepernick’s cause or Nikes’ decision to market it, Nike had to fight its own battle in the stock market. Immediately following the release of the campaign, Nike stock dipped nearly 4%, and it seemed as though the boycotts were doing what they were intended to do.

However, here we are only two weeks later, and many consumers are left asking, “what boycott?” In a short period of time Nike has almost completely regained any ground lost by the boycott, and that is because they have been kept afloat by all of the free publicity the company has gotten as a result of the ad. In a study conducted by Apex marketing group, “The latest estimates put the value of the media exposure from the campaign at more than $163 million.”

What makes this information so relevant is that it shows no matter which side you happened to take on this issue, we all made Nike a little bit richer.

From a business standpoint, Nike made one of the most high-risk decisions in recent memory, and it has resulted in major rewards. Those who are experts on finance have praised Nike for the decision. Camilo Lyon, stock market analyst, told CNBC, “We believe Nike’s new ‘Just Do It’ ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick was a stroke of genius.”

As harsh as it may sound, the fact of the matter is that Nike never cared whether or not you “just [did] it.”  Its main concern was whether or not you bought it. Kaepernick’s cause is a noble one, but we as consumers need to make sure we don’t confuse Kaepernick’s cause with that of Nikes’.  

It appears as though many have chosen to put their morals and beliefs into the hands of certain multi-million dollar companies. Nike is just the latest example. What we believe should not be displayed with a logo. We are not supposed to wear our beliefs as T-shirts, hats, or sneakers; we are supposed to hold our beliefs inside and stay true to them when conflict arises. Nobody should face scrutiny for wearing a certain clothing brand. Someone can prefer Adidas over Nike, but the reason should not be because of some moral dilemma.

Since Kaepernick was announced as the face of the campaign, we saw people go to war, not for Kaepernick’s cause, but for a clothing brand. This clothing brand has history of making money off of controversy will continue to do so, no matter what you believe in. 

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