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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Would Nike sacrifice everything


The dubious nature of Nike’s deal with Colin Kaepernick

What has made the actions of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, much more important to civil rights movements than any other celebrity’s activism in recent years, is that he’s been true to his stance despite losing everything and ruffling some feathers.

Kaepernick, a free agent even the most progressive of NFL franchises wouldn’t touch since he took a knee in protest during the national anthem, has just been named the face of Nike’s, ‘Just Do It’ campaign for their 30-year anniversary.

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” the official campaign poster reads.

As if the debate over the actions of Kaepernick’s and countless other NFL players who have joined him in protest weren’t polarizing enough for our nation, here enters the biggest sports apparel conglomerate in the world picking sides.

To criticize this movement is to be hypocritical in your own thought and speech.

The anthem represents free speech and free speech is a pivotal part of what makes our country what it is today. Simiraly, I don’t buy the narrative that it disrespects the military and those who’ve fought for our country. Minimal research proves that Kaepernick was influenced by U.S. Army veteran, Nate Boyer, to kneel in protest to police brutality, in contrast to sitting.

Despite that, what I do believe is that Nike may have ulterior motives to supporting Kaepernick and those players who have followed his action.

At the end of the day, Nike is a business. And what is a business without marketing tactics? In this case, Nike, either intentionally or not, has chosen sides and therefore has targeted the probable larger majority of Kaepernick supporters to support their brand.

Of course with this decision came those yearning to spread their stance and hate for the brand’s choice: ripping the logo off of socks and even burning their collections of Nike shoes. They may have lost some customers, but with this, a larger scale of brand recognition has been created that will be all over the news and in discussion between potential consumers.

For big brands or personalities, controversy sells. What sells almost as much as controversy is Nike, whose income last year rose 6 percent to 34.4 billion dollars.

They can afford to lose some customers over their headlines and for as many as they lose, I’m sure they’ll gain even more willing to participate in their hijacking of Kaepernick’s social movement.

To show support is one thing: as many athletes and celebrities have voiced their opinions on the debate. It seems as though Nike, however, has decided to make this issue about them, rather than the cause itself.

After all, this is an ad campaign and advertisements are typically directed solely for revenue. What will come next? Will Adidas decide to use a soldier as the face of their new sneakers to combat Nike’s revenue?

President Trump expressed his qualms about the decision, which, in today’s political climate, often is an unintentional endorsement rather than a defamation.

“As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way – I mean, I wouldn’t have done it,” Trump said. “In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”

According to Business Insider, so far, the ad is succesful, despite its risk. It was trending on Twitter for millions to see and they report that “Nike has already seen more than $43 million worth of media exposure, nearly $19 million worth of which was positive.”

It is entirely possible that Nike is fully invested in the cause and the heroism that Kaepernick portrayed thus far and is continuing to portray.

To me, it is equally plausible that they simply saw an opportunity of polarization throughout the nation and viewed it as a potential marketing tool.

Kaepernick was willing to risk millions of dollars and ultimately the security of his job over something that matters to him.

If Nike fell under the same scrutiny and economic loss, I doubt that they’d be willing to “sacrifice everything.”

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