Nike’s Decision Creates Protests


Getty Images

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02: (L-R) Eli Harold #58, Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Brooke Papini, Sophomore Staff Writer

Thousands of shoe companies are found throughout the world, but Nike may be the biggest of them all. Nike is king of the sneaker empire, but many are questioning the company’s decision to add Colin Kaepernick to their ad-campaign. These advertisements started in the beginning of September and have yet to slow down. There has been a roar of outrage and hatred towards Nike, and some consumers have gone so far as to destroy their Nike merchandise.

According to online sources, Colin Kaepernick is currently an unsigned NFL quarterback who previously played with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s a civil rights activist who previously brought attention to himself when he refused to stand for the National Anthem in 2016. Initially when Kaepernick began his protests, he sat on the bench during the anthem.  Later in the season, he had a conversation with a veteran about his protests and started to kneel, rather than sit on a bench, as a form of respect for the anthem and his country. His actions were part of the Black Lives Matter movement, sources state, drawing attention to law enforcement’s supposed harassment and killing of African Americans.

Soon after Kaepernick began his kneeling protests, other NFL players and athletes around the country joined him. This display lasted all throughout the 2017 season, instigating reactions from millions of frustrated fans.  Many said Kaepernick was “disrespecting the flag” and attacked the NFL. This display actually hurt the NFL significantly. According to Forbes online: “ Last year’s seepage (loss of viewers) has turned into a major break in the dam. The league is now down about three million viewers per game from 2013 and 2014. When the specific teams appearing, the scope of the telecast and the week of the season are taken into account, the decline is even more dramatic: more than four million viewers, or in excess of 20%.”  This loss has caused the NFL to create some hard fast rules: the League now requires athletes to either stand for the anthem or stay in the locker room.

After about a year of protests, Kaepernick was released from the 49ers and became a free-agent.  Last October, he filed a grievance saying the NFL was the reason why he was not signed to a team. Just recently, Nike took an interest in Kaepernick and offered to feature him in one of their ad-campaigns. The controversial player had dealt with Nike in the past, but hadn’t made an appearance in one of their campaigns since 2011. According to sources, Kaepernick negotiated a deal with Nike and agreed to make an appearance in their 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” slogan. Some consumers are now sending threats to Nike and going as far as boycotting their products. On the other hand, Nike began receiving a strong amount of support for Kaepernick’s campaign. The company suffered only a 2% drop in share price shortly after, sources states, still countless people are committing acts of violence against the brand, such as burning their shoes and cutting off the Nike logo from their socks. A Christian college in Georgia has even cut ties with Nike and a mayor has banned city recreation facilities from buying Nike products.

While coping with these hardships, athletes such as Lebron James and Serena Williams have come out and publicly stated that they support Nike’s new campaign.  Since Labor Day, Nike’s sales have increased 31% after the ad was released. Mikey VanSuch, a senior at Hubbard High School, says, “Nike evolved into Nike because it was based on the concept of rebellion. This company has dealt with the NBA banning Air Jordans. They transformed Jordan into the face of their establishment when black men were considered to be a huge risk as pitch men. They have done this before and are ready to do it again.”

Nike has taken another risk yet again, but they are a company that stands up for their beliefs. Hubbard High School sophomore Amber Davis says, “Nike using Colin Kaepernick in their ad helped get his message out again. It shows that a person should stick to their views no matter what.” Nike intends to act as a voice to spread other messages and beliefs. They know what they’re doing and were well aware of the fact that people would be offended with the campaign. They have made many controversial ads over the years and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. These types of ads tend to stir the pot and create lots of hype. Nike knows their business is based off the younger generation, who has a reputation for being rebellious, and they know that these younger consumers will stand by them all the way.  So even if you are a person who is offended by the ads, assume that Nike will surely make it through and be successful, even if some don’t agree with their latest campaign.