In 1988 Nike premiered their, now infamous, “Just Do It” campaign, showing 80-year-old Walt Stack jogging across the Golden Gate Bridge. 30 years and a lot of controversy later, Nike are trading at a near all-time high following their 30th Anniversary campaign, featuring NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
Written across the quarterback’s face were the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” which alludes to the powerful protest Kaepernick led by kneeling when the national anthem played before matches throughout the 2016 season.
The former San Francisco 49ers player initially just sat through the anthem of the 49ers third preseason game in the 2016 season, before explaining that he refused to show pride in a flag for a country that has a history of oppressing people of colour.
Kaepernick then switched to taking a knee in an attempt to display his respect for former and current U.S military members while still protesting the anthem.
Following his actions, the player found himself on the end of serious backlash from President Trump who challenged the league owners to terminate the contracts of anyone who followed Kaepernick’s movement.
Since his protests began, the quarterback has failed to get signed by any of the league’s 32 teams, despite the fact that he is much younger and more talented than some of the players who have been signed.
This led Kaepernick, and another ex-49er Eric Reid, to file collusion grievances against NFL owners, to which an arbitrator ruled that his case can proceed to a full hearing, despite the leagues objections.
Once Kaepernick tweeted the monochrome picture of motivation, it seemed that there was quite the divide from public opinion.
Many people were extremely unhappy that Nike, one of the world’s leading suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel, selected a man who refused to stand for the national anthem. Some users and people were so abhorred by Nike’s decision that they posted videos of themselves burning their Nike products, which they had already purchased, thus not being too detrimental to the multinational corporation.
Nike executive Gino Fisanotti explained that “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward. We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes.”
Nike shares dropped 2% the day after the image was released, however have since recovered and now moved on to record highs, increasing about 5%, once traders were able to digest the news.
This wasn’t the first occassion in recent months that Nike had been the centre of controversy, as only a few weeks before they ran into issues when providing Serena Williams a black catsuit to wear at the French Open for medical reasons. Bernard Giudicelli, the President of the French Tennis Federation has said the attire wouldn’t be accepted, claiming it does not show respect for the game.
The company responded by creating a slogan for Serena; “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers”.