Social media has been swarmed by mixed reactions after Nike launched their newest ad featuring Colin Kaepernick with a powerful message.
The former NFL quarterback has been one of the most controversial athletes to date. Kaepernick started the U.S. anthem protest in 2016 by sitting during the anthem before an Army veteran suggested kneeling instead. Other U.S. athletes soon followed the harmless and peaceful protest against systematic oppression. When President Donald Trump expressed dismay and suggested firing players, the movement became stronger and bigger as more athletes joined ad supported it.
Kaepernick is back in the headlines as he is the face of Nike's "Just Do It" campaign for their 30th anniversary.
The ad immediately sparked outrage and received criticism.
Tucker Carlson of Fox News, one of many who disapproves, stated: "'This is an attack on the country.'" He criticized Nike's executives for "'deciding that they are going to profit off attacks on the country that made their company possible.'" The host continued by accusing the brand of "'destroying society'" as their goal.
People are calling to boycott the brand for standing with Kaepernick, which led to the trending hashtag #NikeBoycott. A Twitter user posted a video of him burning a pair of Nike shoes to show denunciation. John Rich, a country singer-songwriter, also tweeted a picture of his band's soundman cutting off the swoosh logo from his socks. Amongst the distasteful tweets, UFC champion Colby Covington called Colin Kaepernick "a spineless sack of shit" compared to Pat Tillman who is "an NFL/American hero."
President Trump did not hold back either. He stated in a tweet, "Nike is getting killed with anger and boycotts."
Though the company's shares did take a toll with a 3 percent decrease on Tuesday, they have increased again as of Wednesday. The campaign created a whopping "$43 million worth of media exposure." Thus, there has been a 31 percent increase in sales, disproving the original speculations when former customers declared to boycott.
The positive reactions outweigh the backlash as other individuals defend and praise the company's bold move to make a statement.
"'For anybody who believes in change," the Los Angeles Laker, upon receiving an award at Harlem's Fashion Show, declared. "I stand with Nike, all day, every day.'"
The legendary tennis player is "'especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today.'" Williams also appears in an Nike ad that highlights her continual career as a Black woman and now mother.
Another supporter is John O. Brennan, former CIA director, who applauded Kaepernick for "[drawing] our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America."
As explained by a sports analyst, "'. . . Nike went into this absolutely knowing what they were doing, with the intention that some people would be offended.'" It was an opportunity for the brand to take a political stance because, supported by date, "urban and young consumers were more likely to say they would react favorably to a company that advocated the rights of protestors to kneel during the national anthem."
According to the sportswear giant's spokesman Josh Benedek, the "Dream Crazy" campaign is set to air during Thursday Night Football. The TV commercial will only be 90 seconds rather than the original length.
This is not Nike's first time to stir controversy with their ad when they have had a history of doing so. There is no such thing as bad publicity after all.