Sports apparel giant Nike faced flack from social media users and calls were given to boycott the company products after the company declared that it would include Colin Kaepernick for the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” slogan. There was also a fall in the shares of the company as a consequence by 3 per cent.
Kaepernick who is a former NFL quarterback, is also currently better known for the controversy he generated for his kneeling down during the national anthem as a mark of protest against racial injustice and police brutality.
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” read a teaser for an ad Kaepernick tweeted.
Experts said that the ad clearly was distinguishable as it carried a bold statement on racial justice from the company and was a clear and explicit showcasing of the value of the company. According to experts, for Nike the fight against racism is a principle of its mission, even though most companies refrain from announcing any form of clear position on racial issues.
However, there were some Kaepernick critics who decoded the ad as a call for sacrificing their Nike products.
The protests of the NFL players during the playing of the national anthem in games has been repeatedly criticized by United States President Donald Trump. This was a method of protest that was launched by Kaepernick. The protests have often been characterized to be protests against the national anthem or the national flag.
“I watched Colin Kaepernick, and I thought it was terrible, and then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming, and frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game, and he would have never done it again,” Trump said in a television interview last year. “I will tell you, you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem. You cannot do that.”
Trump is yet to speak out anything on the current controversy surrounding Kaepernick.
But the hashtag #NikeBoycott was trending on Twitter.
According to media reports, 15- to 17-year-old teenagers would be the target audience of the new “Just Do It” campaign of Nike. The campaign would also however include professional athletes Odell Beckham Jr., Shaquem Griffin, Lacey Baker, Serena Williams and LeBron James.
There has been no response from Nike over the issue.
Negative publicity or public pressure often pushes companies to respond. But according to Anthony Johndrow, a corporate reputation adviser, in the case of Nike and its Kaepernick ad, a proactive message on social and racial justice has bene sent to the public. Johndrow said that the norm for most companies in such situations is to keep away from campaigning on racial issues because it is feared that the internal stakeholders of such companies may not “stand up to the scrutiny that will come if we take a stance on this”.
(Adapted from SMH.com)