Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Ad and Why He Began Kneeling
On September fifth 2018, Nike released a two-minute video and photo advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback. The video, named, “Dream Crazy”, is narrated by Kaepernick and showcases multiple inspirational sports-related stories about both amateurs and pro athletes. “ Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” Kaepernick says at the conclusion of the video. The photo advertisement displays Kaepernick’s face and these same words.
The sacrifice mentioned in the advertisement references Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the National Anthem before NFL games. He did so to protest against police brutality. Kaepernick is currently suing the NFL for allegedly colluding to keep him from playing in the league because of his protests.
Shortly after the advertisement was aired, President Trump tweeted, asking, “What was Nike thinking?” This wasn’t the first time Kaepernick had received comments from the president on his beliefs and protest. Colin Kaepernick started this debate when he kneeled during the national anthem during a preseason game in the summer of 2016. Shortly after this incident, President Trump tweeted saying anyone who did not stand for the national anthem should be fired. Kaepernick responded, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag or country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He continued, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. …There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder…I am not looking for approval. I must stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me – I know that I stood up for what is right.”
After sitting, the former 49ers quarterback met with Army veteran Nate Boyer to discuss his protest. Boyer deemed it appropriate and respectful to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem; he believed Kaepernick’s protest was never about the flag or the military but about what it signified. Kaepernick’s protest represents the continue issue of racial injustice and what it means to be a minority in America.
Slowly, more athletes joined Kaepernick’s protest, beginning with some of his former 49ers teammates. This silent protest, called the #TakeAKneeMovement, quickly spread to other football teams, sports, and even some high school athletes. As more people joined the movement, some decided, instead of kneeling, to stand and link arms.
A poll held in 2016 about America’s perceptions of NFL players revealed Kaepernick was the league’s most disliked player. Of the results from this poll, 37 percent of white respondents said they disliked him “a lot,” while only two percent of black respondents disliked him.
When Kaepernick first received backlash for kneeling during the national anthem, and some companies dropped him as a sponsor, Nike quietly kept Kaepernick under contract. As his contract was beginning to expire, the company re-signed him and made him the focus of their 30th anniversary “Just do it” campaign. On September 6th, CNBC reported that since the ad was released, Nike gained $163.5 million in media exposure alone.
Radio show host Scott Seidenberg of, Overtime with Scott Seidenberg, shortly voiced his opinion of calling Nike’s choice to include Colin Kaepernick for their 30th anniversary, “ the dumbest move ever!” Even going as far to saying that the ad alone is dumb. The podcast resolves around the question of what did Kaepernick sacrifice at all? Did he even sacrifice anything? Rather, he has instead made millions of dollars Seidenberg, says that, if Kaepernick had said that if he was going to donate every penny he has made to foundations spreading awareness to this cause, then there wouldn’t be controversy. Even though, before Kaepernick left the NFL, he promised to donate $100K, every month for charity and organizations, and has since donated almost one million dollars.
The campaign, also sparked protests among consumers, some going as far as posting videos of themselves burning Nike apparel and shoes. Nike’s stock price did initially dip but has since rebounded, reaching an all-time high of $85.55 the week after the campaign was aired. In a CNN poll, the majority of voters actually approved of Nike’s decision, although there was an age divide. Voters between ages 18 and 34 approved, while voters aged 65 and older disapproved of Nike’s decision.
Through all the backlash, Nike remained poised and later posted a video in response with instructions on how to burn their products properly. Shortly after the ad was released, two small unnamed colleges distanced themselves from Nike. According to Fox News, Mayor Ben Zahn of Kenner, Louisiana signed a memo shortly after the Nike ad was released. Stating that, “under no circumstances” can any Nike apparel or equipment be “purchased for use or delivery at any recreation facilities in the city”. He has sense backed down, although he has not commented of the memo.
The Nike commercial shows multiple images of what it means to be different and overcome an obstacle or stereotype, which fits into why Kaepernick is still a free agent and has been for over 18 months. Kaepernick’s intention of this ad, wasn’t to bring controversy to himself, but to bring the attention back to the original reason why he still isn’t playing the NFL and he why he kneeled in the first place. His intention was to bring the attention back to Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and many others who were innocent and lost their lives to police brutality.