Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Keith Rathbone, Lecturer, Modern European History and Sports History, Macquarie University
Nike's courageous new ad campaign mixing racial politics with sport will be vindicated

The sports apparel giant Nike stirred up controversy on Monday when it unveiled its “Just Do It: 30th anniversary” advertising campaign. It featured a variety of superstar American athletes including the polarising quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the Bend the Knee protests in the NFL in September 2016.

The protests had initially targeted police violence against people of colour but broadened into a wider protest against US President Donald Trump after he said any player who knelt during the anthem was a “son of bitch”. Trump, who continues to suggest that the NFL should withhold the kneeling players’ salaries, said the new Nike ad was a “terrible message … that shouldn’t be sent”.

Nike’s ad featured a powerful black and white photo of Kaepernick telling consumers to “believe in something. Even if means sacrificing everything.” The hastag #JustDoIt struck a chord, trending for 24 hours on Twitter.

There was an immediate backlash from conservatives against the Nike advert. On social media, fans posted images and videos of burnt Nike jerseys and shoes using the hashtag #justburnit.

In a tweet that went viral, country musician John Rich showcased socks with the Nike swoosh cut out. Nike’s stock price tumbled, losing 3% percent in market value.

Not all the response to the Kaepernick ad has been negative. Many people support the NRL protests, and celebrities like the rapper Common, and Russell Crowe (along with Serena Williams, who is sponsored by Nike) joined in the #justdoit conversation online.

Read more: Why US sports stars are taking a knee against Trump

Perhaps no company is more aware of the power of popular political activism than Nike. In the 1990s, a popular consumer boycott in response to Nike’s environmental and labor practices severely undermined the company’s profits.

In joining forces with the Bend the Knee movement, Nike joins a host of companies taking on progressive political causes including LGBT rights, tax reform, and free speech. Most recently, in the US, the sporting goods retailer Dick’s stopped selling assault weapons after a student killed classmates in Florida with a gun purchased from one of their stores.

Marketing experts are divided over the wisdom of companies engaging in political action. Activism can show consumers that companies care about more than profits, but as conservatives’ reaction to Nike shows, taking a stand can be risky.

Over the long term, Nike probably hopes to benefit from this stand: its key demographics in the US and worldwide are younger and blacker than the people protesting them. Younger Americans are said to strongly support Kaepernick’s protest, and they are the biggest consumers of Nike products. Nike also knows that consumers develop brand loyalty early in their lives and maintain it for a long time.

Nike probably also faced considerable pressure from athletes who are increasingly using their personal brands to engage in politics. Basketballer Lebron James, Nike’s biggest spokesman in the NBA, has feuded with the Donald Trump and condemned his policies as racist. Michael Jordan has sided with James against the embattled president.

Conservatives that want to avoid athletes and clothing retailers affiliated with Bend the Knee will find it increasingly hard to do so.

The NFL’s return this weekend will only reignite the debate over the anthem protests. With almost the whole sports world seemingly arrayed against their politics it is easy to understand why some Republicans, like Fox News Host Laura Ingram, just want athletes such as James to “shut up and dribble.”

Colin Kaepernick and other athletes (while no doubt being handsomely paid by Nike) are boldly speaking out. In the future, Kaepernick and Nike will be vindicated for their bravery.

Authors: Keith Rathbone, Lecturer, Modern European History and Sports History, Macquarie University

Read more http://theconversation.com/nikes-courageous-new-ad-campaign-mixing-racial-politics-with-sport-will-be-vindicated-102707

Writers Wanted

Ammonite: the remarkable real science of Mary Anning and her fossils


Patch Tuesday Commentary from Chris Goettl, Senior Director of Product Management, Security at Ivanti:


The Conversation


Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Business News

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co

Avoid These Mistakes When Changing up Your Executive Career

Switching up industries is a valid move at any stage in your career, even if you’re an executive. Doing so at this stage can be a lot more intimidating, however, and it can be quite difficult know...

News Co - avatar News Co

4 Costly Mistake To Avoid When Subdividing Your Property

As a property developer or landowner, the first step in developing your land is subdividing it. You subdivide the property into several lots that you either rent, sell or award to shareholders. ...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion