Kaepernick controversy with Nike ignites debate

Nike’s Kaepernick advertisement (Photo courtesy of youtube.com)

Nike’s Kaepernick advertisement (Photo courtesy of youtube.com)

Jake Miller, Staff Writer

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During Labor day weekend Nike announced its 30th Anniversary Just Do It campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with the quote, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

At the initial release, the ad became subject to an extreme amount of backlash and criticism from conservative leaning individuals and media outlets. Kaepernick became famous playing quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, but in recent years has gained even more attention from his demonstrations during the national anthem before each game. Kaepernick said that was kneeling to protest police brutality, which  sparked dozens of other players to do the same. Many fans and celebrities support Kaepernick in his stance and have expressed their views on social media, but those who don’t support him view it as a disgrace to our nation and those who died to defend it. Ever since 2016 when the protests began, Kaepernick has been the face of this new movement and has been both praised and hated ever since. Now in the wake of this ad both sides of this argument have resurfaced to fight it out once again.

“I do not support him kneeling during the National Anthem but I can respect that he has a cause he’s willing to fight for,” said Connor Meadows, a Milford Senior.

At the initial release of the ad, Nike stocks fell about 4 percent but in the week that followed not only did stocks rise, Nike reached an all-time high with an increase of 34 percent. Even though the company has been seeing exponential growth in sales, they are also seeing backlash on a nationwide scale from the burning of their products to even President Trump saying, “”Just like the NFL, whose ratings have done WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?”

Nike’s main demographic is primarily between the ages of 18-40, according to Brandon Gaille Marketing advice; polling shows that this age group tends to agree more with Kaepernick and his ideals. According to a poll by SSRS, of people ages 18 to 34, 44 percent  agreed with Nike’s ad and 32 percent did not.

This suggests Nike’s ad was primarily aimed towards younger individuals and is maybe a prediction that Nike will start to focus efforts on the younger generations and less towards the older customers, who primarily have differing opinions.

“At first I was against him kneeling but now I understand him and support his cause” said Max Poser, a Milford junior

At this point with all of the hysteria between both sides of the argument wearing Nike apparel has almost become a political statement.

What was once a casual shirt or a pair of sneakers is now an expression of your political beliefs. Most people like to know the stance of the company they buy from, but at some point does it all become too much? Does everything have to become political or should some things be left as simply as a customer buying a product?

Either way, the success that Nike’s ad is rare to say the least. The cooler company Yeti came out last year severing ties with the NRA (National Rifle association) and instead of seeing growth like Nike, all they saw was boycott on a national level. Whether or not making a company’s political beliefs a part of their sales campaign is a good idea is up to huge amounts of debate, but this time it seemed to work in Nike’s favor.

Kaepernick is pictured here in 2012 when he was a starter for the San Francisco 49ers, before he started kneeling during the national anthem

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