Opinion: Nike campaign with Colin Kaepernick is a genius marketing move

Posted on Sep 7 2018 - 5:50am by Alyssa Moncrief

“Girls from Compton don’t play tennis. They own it.”

“Don’t wait until you’ve won a ring to play like it.”

“Believing in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

These are just a few of the campaign slogans that Nike released Tuesday as part of its new ad campaign that features elite athletes such as Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr. and, infamously, Colin Kaepernick. The choice to use Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers player who knelt during the national anthem in 2016, in the campaign is receiving both support and backlash from consumers, particularly through social media. As of Tuesday afternoon, Nike stock had dropped approximately 3.2 percent because of Kaepernick’s involvement, according to CNBC.

Protesters on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram have taken their political discourse as far as destroying Nike gear and cutting the famous “swoosh” symbols off of their clothes. The #JustBurnIt challenge, a social media challenge to burn all Nike apparel, was even created in defiance of the #JustDoIt campaign. Others, however, such as Chicago Tribune columnist Kevin Williams, believe Nike’s choice to use such a controversial spokesperson was bold yet genius.

The saying goes, “Even bad publicity is good publicity,” right? By using Kaepernick, historically one of Nike’s best-sellers in the jersey industry (even after he remained unsigned for the 2017 NFL season), Nike is clearly making a political statement that will pay off. The company is emotionally appealing to human rights activists, liberals and Democrats by rekindling the fire that NFL players created in the civil rights world when they decided to protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.

This seems to be a carefully planned move on Nike’s part to create buzz and discussion of the brand and its political opinions. Financially, the company has found a new audience in supporters of Kaepernick’s political movement who previously were not Nike customers. Although its stock dropped temporarily, Nike recently completed a deal with the NFL, a multi-billion dollar industry, to add the “swoosh” logo to all NFL players’ gameday attire. Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs, even praised Kaepernick and his comrades for all of the social justice issues they had taken a stance on.

Nike is clearly not losing money any time soon. Kaepernick has much to gain from this deal as well, as portions from the profit of his apparel line with Nike will benefit his charity, Know Your Rights Camp, which is dedicated to promoting youths’ self-awareness of rights and knowledge of civil liberties. This multi-year deal also places Kaepernick in an elite bracket of athletes that includes Beckham Jr. and Williams. Although Kaepernick’s #JustDoIt campaign may not seem like much more than a political proclamation against President Trump and conservatives, it is clearly a well-thought-out, economically cunning marketing plan.

Alyssa Moncrief is a freshman political science and journalism major from Jackson.