On Sunday, Nike announced that former NFL quarterback turned activist, Colin Kaepernick would be the face of its 30th “Just Do It” ad campaign. Kaepernick was black-listed from the league after he launched a silent protest, kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness of police brutality.
As news broke of the decision, reactions poured in on social media. Predictably, public opinion was strongly divided with some expressing solidarity with Kaepernick and applauding Nike, while other declared Nike’s decision as the beginning of the end of Western civilization as we know it.
One of the most popular forms of protest that merged on social media was to destroy and or burn ones Nike gear. Country singer John Rich of the duo ‘Big and Rich’ took to Twitter to announce that his soundman had taken it upon himself to cut off the Nike swooshes on his Nike socks.
Shortly after, several other users posted photos or videos of their Nike gear that they had destroyed in protest of Nike’s move. One Twitter user whose video has been seen 4.5M times, wrote to Nike, “Due to your support of C.K. in your coming adds, I as an American can no longer support your company. #boycottNike #IStandForOurFlag.”
Even the president weighed in on the situation Friday, tweeting out “what was Nike thinking?” That tweet came two days after the president asserted that Nike was “getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.” President Trump has frequently criticized Kaepernick and all NFL players who kneel during the anthem, once referring to them as ‘sons of bitches’ at a rally.
Yet despite boycott campaigns from many on the right and those opposed to kneeling during the national anthem, viewing it as an insult to the flag, the country, and the troops, Nike seems to be doing just fine.
According to a report from Market Watch, after an initial dip, Nike’s online sales jumped 31% in the days immediately following the announcement. That compares to 17% during the same time period in 2017.
Among millennial investors, according to Business Insider, over 15,000 investors on Robin Hood (a no-fee brokerage popular among millennials) have added Nike to their portfolio this week, an increase of 45% from last week. According to the app’s data analyst, “Investors on Robinhood are buying Nike stock 300% more than they are selling, compared to 12% last week.”
For all the outrage over Nike’s deal with Colin Kaepernick over his perceived vendetta against US troops and veterans, one idea has gained popularity as an alternative to burning or destroying Nike products. Jackie Aina (@lebronzejames) responded to John Rich’s original tweet and suggested, “OR you all could just donate your unwanted Nike clothes (that you’ve already paid for, and they’ve already profited off of to our fellow vets that are homeless since you’re so pressed.”
It’s amazing it never occurred to those cutting up their Nikes and setting fire to their workout gear that on any given night more than 40,000 veterans are homeless and might perhaps be in need of clothing assistance.