The world loves influencers, and brands share a symbiotic relationship with them. These so-called “influencers” earn millions in money and followers and sometimes their association with an event or a brand help extricate them from the doldrums. This is precisely the case with Nike’s new advertisement featuring American footballer Colin Kaepernick. So why did Nike, known for its customised shoes, bags and Air Jordans, attract the wrath of modern-day Ku Klux Klan Americans? Firstly, let us understand who is Colin Kaepernick is. He is a former quarterback for the 49ers, a team in the National Football League that is now a free agent. So why has this advertisement divided the NFL lovers?
Colin Kaepernick’s idea of protest is very peculiar. He chose to kneel during the national anthem attracting the wrath of the All American, who found his act disrespectful to the national anthem. But, for him his actions was a way to protest the one-sided police and law enforcers brutality on black minorities, this set the tug of war open with media personalities and even politicians divided on the issue.
Over the course of my research I’ve come across videos of people burning their cool Nike shoes as a symbol of protest, so one would expect that Nike lost out big, Right? However, that isn’t the case. Within 24 hours of the advertisement, Nike earned 43 million USD, generated due to media exposure. Furthermore, its sales surged by 31% when compared to 2017 sales for that period. They also wrapped up an 8-year sponsorship deal with the NFL which will bring in billions in revenue. The greatest outcome is that Nike is heavily banking on Blacks. According to Ian Schafer, founder of media company Deep Focus, Nike understands the course of history from civil rights activists, sports people, and urban artists who are the next group of influencers in the melting pot called USA and are not in particularly worried about the angry 40-something average white American man who will not shape the future generation culture.
America has always been seen as a land of opportunity, diversity, and liberalism. Therefore, its somewhat hypocritical that a country that fought wars to end slavery and had right activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and till very recently a black president is still unable to assuage its racial fears. In this case, Nike is in all sincerity is in a win-win situation. Therefore the decision taken by them is indeed calculated and not that they wanted to arise as a saviour for human rights suddenly. Nike wants to give a strong proof that its brand is indeed stronger than the competing brand, which in this case isn’t Adidas, but POTUS.