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Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign causes controversy after ad

Sportswear giant Nike brings former NFL star into the new campaign, creating uproar everywhere


by Tom Molnar


Everybody knows sportswear giant Nike’s slogan: ‘Just Do It’. However, controversy surfaced after they announced that Colin Kaepernick would be face of the campaign’s 30th anniversary. On Monday Saturday 3rd, Nike revealed an ad featuring Kaepernick’s face that read “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”. 


Kaepernick, formerly the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was a controversial choice due to his notoriety for kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games. He became a national figure back in 2016 when he chose to kneel rather than stand whilst the US national anthem was played. He did this as a protest against racial injustice in the United States, and throughout the season other athletes in the NFL and other American sporting leagues joined in on the protest. Following the 2016 season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers, but no team has signed him since, indicating that teams care more about his on-field politics rather than his performance. 


Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was against this activity made by athletes, tweeting that NFL players should be fired if they don’t stand during the national anthem. His constant negative tweeting about the protest caused more NFL players and even coaches to kneel, some doing so expressing dismay for his comments. With the release of the new campaign, Trump has been vocal, going on Twitter to share his opinion. Trump made it clear that he did not like the campaign set out by Nike as he said, “What was Nike thinking?”. Not only that, he went on to say that the sports company was “getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts”. It is true that the public has also been opposed to this ad campaign, with some destroying their Nike products as a response. 


However, in the midst of the controversy, Nike sales grew by 31% from Sunday to Tuesday over Labor Day. According to Edison Trends, Nike’s increase of sales is almost twice the growth from the same time period last year, which saw a 17% increase in sales. Edison Trends claims it determined Nike’s sale increase after analyzing data from three million anonymous e-receipts in the US. This increase comes after a dip in sales by Nike in late August, with order volume decreasing slightly going into September, which is the same trend as last year. 


It appears that the 30th anniversary campaign of ‘Just Do It’ was a success for Nike. Despite the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick, sales bumped up hugely and, as well as this, a Trump dispute was created in itself. However, the NFL has not managed to control the protests, as, on Thursday, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett sat down before the anthem had finished. The same night, a full version of the Nike ad was released, which caused Trump to once again comment via Twitter, but Nike seems to not be affected by what the president has said. 


The company, which supplies game-day uniforms and sideline apparel for the NFL’s 32 teams, also agreed to donate to Kaepernick’s ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign, and with his efforts here GQ Magazine named him Citizen of the Year in 2017. Whether he gets signed to an NFL organization or not is uncertain, but it’s clear that he is a national symbol for all sports and the racial injustice in the United States.

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