How Kaepernick ad helps Nike

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and safety Eric Reid (25) kneel during the National Anthem prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 12.

Used with permission of AP Images

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and safety Eric Reid (25) kneel during the National Anthem prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 12.

by Hayden Schrauff, Reporter

Nike made Colin Kaepernick the face of their iconic “Just Do It” campaign. Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, created controversy in 2016 after he began kneeling during the National Anthem in protest to what he perceived as police brutality in the killing of several unarmed African-American men by the police. Some thought the protest was disrespectful to the United States and veterans and that there are other more appropriate ways for Kaepernick to protest than kneeling. Putting aside the social controversy the ad and the protest created, from a business perspective, Nike will benefit from their advertising choice.

Nike’s sales increased despite efforts by some on social media to boycott the company. After Nike released the Kapernick ad, an Edison Trends study found that sales for the company jumped 31 percent, besting last year’s sales of a 17 percent increase over the same period. The ad did what all ads are designed to do, and that increases the company’s financial standing. The attempts to boycott the company, with some burning their Nike apparel and shoes, does not seem to have led to any serious financial loss for the company.

The ad targets those that tend to side with Kaepernick in the controversy surrounding his protest. Those making up the younger demographics are more supportive of Kaepernick’s form of protest than other age groups, and the people making up the younger groups are a large part of Nike’s market. This ad is designed to reach the large portion of Nike’s base and play into what they already support, that being the protest by Kaepernick. Those customers will be more aware that Nike supports something they are in favor of, making them more inclined to spend their money on the company’s products as a result.

Nike released the ad shortly before the 2018–2019 NFL season started and directed the offseason discussion about Kaepernick’s protest to Nike. Much of the NFL offseason was dominated by news stories about whether or not players should kneel and the NFL’s new policy towards the practice. These stirred up conversations both in the newsroom and on social media, which Nike whipped into using for their purpose. They took something that was already being heavily discussed in society and associated themselves with it, thereby spreading their brand awareness with minimal effort on their part.

Although Nike’s stock price fell 3.2 percent after the ad’s release, it has since reached where it was before the controversy began. Nike could soothe tensions and please both sides of the ad controversy by releasing a statement expressing support for Kaepernick while also encouraging the dialogue around the protest to continue. At the end of the day, Nike has and will continue to reap the rewards from their “Just Do It” campaign.