Nike, Kaepernick and Brand Image

Had a spirited discussion this morning on Facebook that my friend Toby Barlow participated in. Decided to post one of my comments in its entirety here. As of 11:53 am EST, and less than 24 hours since Nike shared their ad, their stock is down over 2%, and boycotts, cutting out swooshes from clothes, etc. have been threatened. No doubt Nike knew they were going to incite this kind of reaction. My response to the ballyhoo below. 

Here’s why I think this Colin Kaepernick Nike ad is a game changer – to date, yes Nike’s been the bold brand – crashing the Olympics with Michael Johnson’s gold shoes, giving Charles Barkley a platform to proclaim “I am NOT a role model“, etc. but at no point before this spot was there ever a figure that controversially stood both for and against America concurrently (depending on your perspective of course).

The Nike ad is thoughtful, introspective. “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

It’s so appropriately Nike yet in the connotation it’s presented, will blast a hole in the relationship between Nike and the NFL for years to come, while debated across homes throughout America. This morning while grabbing my Tim Hortons, I overheard a woman, mid 60’s, talking about the ad with disgust followed with, “This is NOT what my husband died for serving our country.”

Ironically, it kind of was.

WE (e.g. you and I Toby) look at the Kaepernick ad as a shot in the arm to promoting civil rights. What sacrifice did Kaep make (his professional career) to ensure that police brutality ends amongst minorities?

But what about issues we may not agree with? What about gun control? Would it be that surprising to see Dana Loesch in a pair of Under Armour outdoor boots touting her 2nd amendment rights?

Or the Brave’s Daniel Murphy touting chicken biscuit sandwiches for Chick-fil-A under a strong caption disagreeing with LGBT lifestyles?

Nike opened the door for brands to pick sides on personal and political issues where for the most part, they’ve remained objective and silent. I’m not sure this is a good or bad thing. I’m still synthesizing.


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