Nike Campaign with Colin Kaepernick – A Marketing Disaster or An Aggressive Strategy?

The Campaign that spurred millions of opinions

On Sept 3, 2018, Nike had announced that they had signed American football quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick as the face of their new “Just do it Campaign” along with the phrase “Believe in Something, Even if it means sacrificing everything”. Immediately Nike received a backlash on this move. People started to burn their Nike Shoes and #JustBurnit along with #BoycottNike started trending.

Few shops have refused to stock their shops with Nike items and a Louisiana Mayor has even banned city clubs from buying Nike products with a memo that read – “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility”.

Who is Colin Kaepernick and what did he do?

Colin Kaepernick is a quarterback who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2016. He shot to limelight because he refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game in August 2016. Afterward, in an interview, he said “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.” He added that he would continue to sit during the national anthem until seeing “significant change” for minorities.

Over the course of the season, he continued to draw attention limelight for his refusal to stand up. While many condemned him there were a few who came out in his support. In the meantime, he was consistently delivering good performances. At the conclusion of that season, he was left with no team and has been a free agent ever since.

His actions were the inception of something revolutionary as several NFL players on each NFL team along with athletes from other sports started to refuse standing up during the national anthem yet the public had an infamous opinion about him.

In a matter of small time, the protest soon gained Traction

Did Nike risk too much for too little or is it all a strategy?

On the hindsight, it may feel that it was a rash decision with the picture uninstalling Snapdeal due to Aamir Khan’s “Intolerant India” comment but as we delve deeper into facts we find that it was a rather calculated move as the main customer group for NIKE are the black people. Its growth engine has been the International Markets especially South East Asian Countries and China. Contrary to people’s opinion that this campaign was nothing short of a marketing catastrophe Nike saw an increase of 31% in its online sales (Source- BBC and Researcher Edison Trends) in the first weekend after the campaign was released.

This campaign is revolutionary and one that will be cherished for decades as it focused on social issues on which a few companies talk about and the company took a stance that was totally contrarian to the public opinion.


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