Today, the most influential player in the NFL doesn’t play in the NFL.
Colin Kaepernick was blacklisted from the league for inspiring a wave of protests in support of the position that police officers should not shoot unarmed people of color.
The once clear position has been relentlessly co-opted by the NFL, politicians and fans alike and re-cast as flag hating, anti-military and un-american -- not at all what the peaceful protest was about.
It’s about inequality.
Seeing an opportunity to take a side and win (they’re good at that, aren’t they), Nike announced that Kaepernick will be the face of their new campaign commemorating the 30th anniversary of the brand’s iconic Just Do It slogan.
The recent reveal of the campaign has inspired some to post content showing themselves destroying their personal Nike apparel. This boycott limited, to social-media outrage and a bizarre wardrobe purge (Nike already has their money), will have little if any effect on Nike’s bottom line. Nike’s stock did take a hit, but how much of it was NAFTA related vs boycott related is unclear, with the long term benefits of the campaign set to eclipse any short term hiccups.
The Nike campaign was fashioned for and is about publicity, not social injustice.
Still, Nike betting on Kaepernick has some merit, even if the upside for Nike was calculated by a legion of marketers formidable enough to dole out a career ending concussion to Thanos.
Nike believes that the people who believe in equality outnumber the people that burn their clothes, fueled by misunderstanding or prejudice.
And for those of us that welcome the campaign’s core message, in support of equality for all citizens in this era so soaked in broken political discourse, it begs one question we all should put a little more effort into answering.
Who does your brand stand for?