By Sid Slesicki and Hana Ruiz, Clarion Staff
More likely than not, you have heard the controversy of Nike Corporation’s latest advertising campaign, which depicts renowned athletes including LeBron James and Serena Williams. On September 5th, 2018, Nike released their advertisement that received many views from all around the nation. The controversy, however, is rooted in the decision to display ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick as the face of their campaign, who is a strong advocate against police brutality in the United States. The bold font on the commercial depicts the words “Do Something, Even If It Means Losing Everything”, and serves as a reference to Kaepernick’s blacklisting from the NFL for kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance.
The controversy splits between Kaepernick and supporters of the Pledge, the former of which state that kneeling is traitorous and disrespectful to the flag and our country. Many of these displeased Americans have taken to Twitter and Instagram to post themselves burning Nike merchandise as a form of protest for the corporation’s decision.
On the other side, there are those who kneel not to disrespect our nation, but to protest the many accounts of law enforcement brutality, specifically against the African-American community.
Whether you decide to kneel, stand or sit, it cannot be denied that there is a significant amount of risk that Nike takes when deciding to continue Kaepernick’s sponsorship. Nike’s decision shows support for the former quarterback’s actions, and support for the lives lost that he has vocally protested for, on and off the field.
No matter what side of the charged controversy you support, it is unarguable that Nike has most certainly guided the situation to their own success and profit.
Living up to the namesake of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike has definitely achieved a victory in sales by choosing to spotlight the controversial quarterback, and the decision has produced very favorable outcomes for the multi-million dollar corporation (despite reports claiming Nike was on the cusp of terminating Kaepernick’s contract).
Since the airing of the divisive advertisement, Nike has seen a 5% raise in stock value according to CBS and is the top corporate performer this year, surging 36 percent on the Dow’s index of 30 blue-chip stocks alongside an overall value increase of $6 billion since Labor Day according to Vox. Additionally, jersey sales for the quarterback — who hasn’t touched the field in almost two years — have increased in popularity as a nod of support for his cause. But sales have died down since the newly drafted NFL players began to showcase their talents during the regular season.
Despite the backlash of consumers destroying their branded merchandise, it is clear that Nike has not only accomplished its goal of increasing profit, but has also become a trending topic within American politics following the side with Kaepernick. Additionally, Nike is shouldering the political baggage that comes with such a captivating and significant advocate for African-American civil rights in contemporary times.
The outcome of this whole incident has caused many to speculate the legacy of Nike in wake of their current actions. Will Nike’s choice be a historical event remembered by the future of America as a brave decision to stand behind an up-and-coming civil rights activist, or be barely remembered at all? Only time will tell.