Did Nike Make A Business Or Political Decision?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you probably recognize the name Colin Kaepernick. More about him in a moment.
Recently Nike, mostly known for their shoes, has offered Colin Kaepernick a contract in their new promotion that first aired on 2018 Thursday Night Football.
So why is this news?
Who Is Colin Kaepernick?
He’s the first player to kneel on the football field during the playing of the National Anthem before each game.
Over the course of the year almost all teams had a few players that knelt during the anthem to protest what Kaepernick called racial injustice in the US.
He felt that police shootings of blacks and police treatment of people of color had escalated in recent years, so he decided on kneeling as a form of civil protest.
During a post-game interview, he explained his position stating,
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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", referencing a series of events that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and adding that he would continue to protest until he feels like "[the American flag] represents what it's supposed to represent."
How Good Is He?
Colin Kaepernick is a Super Bowl winning football quarterback who is currently a free agent.
Kaepernick played college football for the University of Nevada-Reno, where he was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the Year twice and became the only player in NCAA Division I FBS history to amass 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards in a career.
After graduating, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
On March 3, 2017, Kaepernick officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, an option as part of his restructured contract, therefore making him a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year.
As of this writing no NFL team has offered him a football contract. He has brought a civil action against the NFL for black listing him.
A judge has agreed that he has a case and he will have a future day in court against the NFL.
The Nike Controversy
No question that Kaepernick is a lightning rod of controversy. Some feel he’s spoiled to disrespect the country that has given him such a lucrative opportunity.
Many have boycotted watching or attending games, some see it as a slam against veterans.
Still others agree that more attention should be paid to police shootings of blacks and treatment of people of color.
Nike did take a small market hit when it was announced that Kaepernick was going to be given a podium to promote his viewpoint.
People took to YouTube to video themselves burning or otherwise desecrating Nike shoes and clothing.
Some Final Thoughts
As a marketing person I’ve heard more about Nike in the past ten days than I probably had in the past ten years.
So, from that standpoint this acquisition puts the Nike name in front of potential customers. Many of whom stand with Kaepernick’s view at zero cost to him.
Corporations themselves don’t see black or white. The only see green.
While there is no doubt that CEO’s have political views, they aren’t always reflected in the products of the company — unless it’s profitable.
No green — no protest.
It’s still too early in this particular promotion to see how Nike will emerge on the other side after the controversial dust settles.
Will Kaepernick win in court against the NFL? That would put him in a more positive light with Nike customers and Nike might have made a very smart business decision.
Time will tell.