Nike Launches New Controversial Campaign

Staff Writer: Alex Kelly 

On September 3, 2018, Nike released a new campaign with former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Although this campaign erupted within hours, not all comments and feedback were positive. Nike took a tough blow from some fans who found their campaign to be “unpatriotic”.  

The reason of this is due to Kaepernick’s past. Kaepernick, who once played for the San Francisco 49ers, made a name for himself in 2016, by sitting, and then kneeling, for the national anthem. His reason for refusal to stand was to protest police brutality. He didn’t agree with the actions taken by police on “unarmed African American men and women.”  

Although he spoke out his purpose on the kneeling, citizens from all around the country saw his actions as wrong or immoral. He was eventually cut from the 49ers and didn’t receive another offer from any NFL teams. Nike had Kaepernick signed for a while, but they waited, and secretly came out with their new campaign, who’s slogan reads as such: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” 


Nike’s new campaign ad and slogan featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

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Nike received many mixed comments on this add. Many of the responses were positive and in support of Nike. “I think Nike’s actions of coming out and openly supporting Kaepernick’s movement is an overall positive for the company,” says Brenden Foo, senior at Woodstock High School.  

A survey done by CNN shows that among people ages 18 to 14, 44 percent supported the campaign while 32 percent of others opposed it, leaving 24 percent with no opinion on the campaign. Alongside this, 52 percent of people aged 35 to 44 supported Nike, with only 37 percent being against it.  

However, Nike’s campaign didn’t sit well with older adults, leaving only 26 percent of adults over the age of 65 supporting the movement. Those who did support Nike are a big reason as to why the stocks and sales are increasing. Nike received more and more support as time gone by, leaving stores packed and online sites sold out. Nike continues to praise those who support them and continue to buy their products, while ignoring the negative backlash from their campaign. Overall, most of the feedback on the ad was widely positive.  

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A letter written by the National Black Police Association in support of the Nike campaign. 

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Along with support, a various amount of the immediate remarks was negative, however. People would lash out saying Nike supports kneeling for the flag and disrespecting the flag. From all around the world, people went on social media and slandered Nike. There were posts of people burning their shoes and refusing to wear their clothes, saying they’re boycotting Nike.  

A senior at Woodstock High School, Ryan Martin, was one of the people who’s against the campaign. “I think it’s wrong that Nike supports someone who refuses to stand for the National Anthem and disrespects this country’s military,” says Martin. However, with all these people boycotting Nike, their stocks boomed.  

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Pictured above is a pair of shoes being burned by a Nike customer in protest of the ad. 

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On the day of the ad release, Nike’s stocks dropped about 3.16 percent and closed at 79.60 on Tuesday night, the night after the release. However, on September 12, Nike’s stocks closed at $83/share, which was an all-time high for the company. Today the stocks are at about $84/share and it seems to keep going up. The company is now at an all-time high in shares and it gained about $5 billion in company value since the release of the add.  

The stocks have surged by about 33 percent since the release this year as Wall Street bet that the company would be able to ride out negative publicity. Kaepernick has also generated at least $43 million in free advertising for Nike. Nike’s stocks aren’t the only thing surging since the release of the ad. They gained roughly 170,000 followers on their Instagram account in the wake of the campaign. The campaign is predicted to continue to boost the company’s popularity, as well as their sales. Nike saw an increase in in-store sales and online sales by about 31 percent.  

When asked about the Nike stocks, a local father of a student at Woodstock, Adam Samuels, said, “I think it makes perfect sense that Nike’s stocks are increasing. They knew they would receive some negativity for the ad, but they also saw that it would bring the company popularity and increase sales.” Through the continued criticism, Nike continues to shine, and they will continue to do so in the coming months.  

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Nike’s stocks since the release of the new ad with Colin Kaepernick. 

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In conclusion, the campaign lead to a roller coaster of emotion among the people. There are many people who support Nike for this, many who are against Nike and boycotting, and many people who are unmoved by it. Along with the supporters, the people who had no opinion continued to shop at the stores, being a factor in the increase in stocks.  

“I mean, the campaign doesn’t really affect me in any way. I like Nike products, so I’ll continue to buy them even through this campaign,” says Foroutan Gorgi, another senior at Woodstock High School.  

However, Nike’s campaign didn’t only spark talk about their stocks and sales. The ad they came out with featuring Kaepernick, was subject to many “memes” or jokes. People would photoshop pictures of other celebrities and tweak the slogan in a humorous manner. This brought about an increase in popularity in the company and helped to improve Nike’s overall image.  

Nike will continue to stand by Kaepernick and his message, disregarding the negative remarks they’ve been receiving. Their stocks are predicted to reach a record high and see the biggest increase the company has ever seen by the end of the year.  

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A meme of the Nike ad featuring a joke on Mike Tyson’s lisp. 

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