On Sept. 3, Nike launched one of the most controversial advertisements of 2018. By featuring Colin Kaepernick as the face of the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, the company started a nationwide boycott.
Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee during the national anthem to raise awareness on social justice issues in 2016 and has since been released from the NFL.
The choice to have Kaepernick represent Nike was a bold decision not only for all the attention the company is getting but also because it keeps the issues that he kneeled for fresh in the minds of the public.
The boycott taking place has dissenters burning their Nike apparel in the streets and even has ex-NFL players making rash comments. Former NFL player Burgess Owens made an appearance on Fox Business Network where he compared the campaign to attacks like “9/11 and Pearl Harbor.”
The number of American deaths in the 9/11 attacks was around 2,975 and Pearl Harbor deaths were around 2,400. It affects entire communities, especially military and first responders, when something such as a Nike campaign gains the same amount of anger as an attack on the nation.
There are other solutions to burning your purchased Nike gear. As some people on Twitter have suggested, the apparel can be donated to those less fortunate and make a difference while still proving a point.
Nike is allowing Kaepernick to have a continued voice, as the advertisement says: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Change cannot take place if people are too afraid of punishment.
While this advertisement has both sides speaking out, Nike gains all the free publicity. Whether this was the goal or not remains to be seen, but celebrities like Mike Rowe from “Dirty Jobs” have been commenting on the choice.
“Nike’s free to celebrate whomever they wish, and Kaepernick is entitled to his opinion–kneeling, standing, or lying down,” the 56-year-old wrote Monday. “But if I was going to put someone’s face on a billboard – someone who epitomized bravery and sacrifice – I might have gone another way, especially this time of year. I might have gone with this guy – Tom Burnett.”
He is referencing Burnett who, along with other passengers, died after helping to retake the plane that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania on 9/11.
This advertisement created especially strong reactions as it was released around the anniversary of the terrorist attack on New York. Whatever side you’re on, Nike continues to make headlines and sell apparel.