Nike and Kaepernick

The Ad You Will Love or Hate

Nike is betting most will love it and there’s the story.

Colin Kaepernick is nothing if not polarizing.

He is the center of the controversial universe.

In many ways he is the last person to choose to represent a product or brand.


Nike has done their homework.

They are a $129 billion company so we can assume they have looked into the matter a bit.

What if their research shows that their demographic customers, now and in the future, are attracted to Kaepernick’s message and method?

If so, it will also be true that his rise to prominence is fueled to a great degree by Donald Trump, the man who has vilified him at every turn, transforming him into a social justice hero for millions.

Along comes Nike, on the search for a symbolic representative, both hip and edgy, to keep them relevant and spotlighted– it’s a match made in merchandising heaven.

Companies have always wanted to be properly positioned with the public, participating in and advertising their war bond drives, taking part in disaster relief, starting their own charitable foundations.

This week American Airlines advertises, 

Help save lives and earn miles too

Nike, like Benetton before them, has chosen to appeal to customers who are younger, more diverse, more urban and more educated.

Which, by the way, is one likely description of those with money to spend on fashion and clothing, especially while promoting a cause they believe in.

Indeed, the 2016 presidential results bears Nike’s bet out, Trump lost the popular vote by millions and the result, his win by about 80,000 votes spread across three states, an electoral anomaly.

Nike is embracing the America of Obama–inclusive, poised, and open.

And in Kaepernick they have their all, he is biracial, athletic, well spoken and attractive.

Nike also bets many surely want to be like him, even if it’s just wearing a swoosh on their chest.

Is Nike using Kaepernick or is it the other way round, or both?

Perhaps it bears reminding that much of life is an endless variation of being used or using, sometimes to mutual advantage, sometimes not.

For my firefighter union colleagues, no better example exists than the one between our Union, the IAFF, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA.)

Each uses the other to maximum advantage and a nickel of every dollar accrues to the union, diverted from the treatment of sick and dying children.

Kaepernick, whether kneeling, lying or sleeping, is saintly in comparison to that moral crime of depravity and greed.

But at least we stand for the anthem.











  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    Very good, Eric. It may indeed be all about the money…or not. I don’t like to second-guess someone else’s motives without knowing sure certain — as I wouldn’t want them guessing at mine. However, one can harbor one’s suspicions….Whatever, it was probably a smart merchandizing move.

  • Mark Fuller says:

    Adding money to an equation isn’t always a bad thing. All of us want to have more money than bills. I would contrast Nike and the New Yorker. Both companies took a chance, one stuck by theirs and the other capitulated to pressure. If you are going to be bold, stay the course.

    Nike will stay the course and make money plus, and more importantly polish their image. We have a lot of problems, the police shootings are only one. In order to solve our problems, we need to listen and if anything CK is impossible to ignore. If they would have not photographed him kneeling he would be playing and no one would notice, but we listened to what he had to say and that is forcing a discussion we really need to have, really, really need to have. Policing out of fear is dangerous.

    I will splash some cash Nike’s way soon. I’m an Adidas man, but a diverse closet can be a blessing.

  • Miguel says:

    I think you are all out of your minds. Don’t compare the Relationship between the IAFF and the MDA to that of an ignorant ass and a hopefully soon to be out of business company. I, like many many others have served this great nation and know the value of honoring OUR flag not only as the mark of this nation but the memory of those that have given all so that some idiot can kneel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *