I hate to be cynical, but I think we should be hesitant to rush to heap praise on Nike as if the announcement of Colin Kaepernick as the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign was a super brave or risky move.
The reality is they weighed the risks, performed a cost-benefit analysis of running the campaign and realized that the fallout wouldn’t outweigh the positive PR and free marketing they would receive. While it’s great to see Nike highlight Kaepernick, I found myself wondering if they are also invested in working on the issues he’s protesting and been addressing since day one.
That’s not to say that they don’t deserve kudos for at least being on the morally right side of the issue, but we shouldn’t act like it was a truly brave move from them or that they are instantly a corporation of the resistance and struggle. They know the value and publicity that will come from the campaign, and how profitable it could be. Colin Kaepernick has had one of the best-selling jerseys even after leaving the league.
It’s definitely possible that as a business, Nike feels strongly about police brutality and inequality and that this led to the decision to highlight Kaepernick, but at the very least, we know they’ve weighed this from a business perspective.
As a massive international corporation, Nike knows exactly what they are getting into. They know that their brand name is going to be all over social media one way or another. They know that the president of the United States is probably going to activate his twitter fingers (he did), and they know that even if they lose some of the air monarch crowd, they will be gaining a wave of support from those who align with Kaepernick and his social justice work
At the end of the day, I’m not taking a shot at nike. I think it’s a great campaign, especially knowing that it will hopefully allow Colin to continue to amazing work, while he is still blacklisted from the NFL. It’s just that to me, this is probably as much a business and PR move for Nike as it is about the issues. Either way, I will thoroughly enjoy watching angry racists burn their already-paid-for Nike gear to really stick it to the company.