Sam Landstra–Staff Writer
In Nike’s new ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick, Nike’s willingness to embrace controversy allows business to soar.
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Nike’s famous Just Do It ad campaign, Nike released a short video titled, “Dream Crazy”. Narrated by ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the video highlights Serena Williams, Shaqeum Griffin, and numerous other athletes who have faced adversity in their sports careers.
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” Kaepernick says into the camera with an American flag waving in the background.
Kaepernick has long been a catalyst of heated debate in America. His kneeling during the national anthem in protest to police brutality in America even got the president to chime in. In the fall of 2017, President Donald Trump called the NFL players who knelt during the anthem “sons of b—–.“ Many people believe that Kaepernick’s protesting disrespects the American flag and what it stands for. Although the protests have largely stopped, Kaepernick is still out of an NFL job, with many experts claiming that NFL teams are blackballing him due to his controversial nature.
Those in opposition to Kaepernick’s peaceful protests claim that Kaepernick has not “sacrificed everything” for the greater cause of his protests, but that the real sacrifice has been made by the US soldiers that have died for their country. The release of the ad campaign brought forth heated opposition. Videos posted to Twitter showed Individuals burning their Nike gear or cutting the Nike swooshes off their socks. A select handful of colleges such as The College of the Ozarks have declared their athletics teams will no longer wear Nike.
Dordt too, has many sports teams that wear Nike apparel, including the football team. However, Dordt Athletic Director Ross Douma states that Dordt does not really have a place in the controversy.
“Dordt College is not affiliated with Nike in that we do not have a signed agreement with them,” Douma notes. “We have students who wear Nike gear, but that does not constitute an alliance with them.”
Despite the intense opposition to the release of the ad campaign, Nike stocks soared following an initial drop, reaching an all-time high a week after the ads release. Additionally, Nike gained 170,000 Instagram followers.
The substantial increase in sales and popularity following the ad may seem surprising, especially given the controversial nature of Kaepernick. However, this is a formula that Nike has followed before. Since its founding in 1964, Nike has continually embraced controversial athletes and flourished, holding the title of largest footwear company in America.
In 1993, Nike released an ad featuring Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley in which Barkley declared, “I am not paid to be a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.” The ad caused much controversy and drew criticism towards Barkley as individuals claimed that he was trying to shrink his responsibility as a basketball player. Additionally, in 2009 when golfer Tiger Woods was accused of having an affair, Nike was one of the only major companies to not drop their endorsement deal with Woods.
Kaepernick, despite his controversy, or perhaps because of it, has allowed Nike greatly to profit off him. And perhaps Nike will do the same for Kaepernick. Perhaps Nike’s embrace of Kaepernick will continue to push the narrative that Kaepernick’s protests are not destructive, but constructive; that although the means may be debatable, they push for a greater and more equal America.