Over the weekend, Nike announced a promotional campaign that featured Colin Kaepernick. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” a promotional image featuring Kaepernick’s face read. It immediately went viral as Nike had hoped, bringing back to life the “taking the knee” debate Kaepernick ignored years ago.
While many opposed to the move announced that they’d be boycotting Nike, or even burning their shoes, others defended the move as a brilliant marketing endeavor. Given that Nike sells more to urban youths (who are more likely to support Kaepernick), they’re simply alienating one customer base to appeal to a larger one. The problem with that theory is that a study conducted by the Morning Consult, a firm that uses real-time brand tracking data, shows that Nike’s favorability and purchasing consideration ratings have dropped off the map following an announcement of their campaign with Colin Kaepernick. And the decline in popularity is across the board:
- Among Republicans, Nike’s positive ratings went from +75 to absolute zero. Among white Americans, favorability dropped from +67 to +27.
- Favorability ratings for Nike amongst Democrats, while not as extreme for the Republicans, still dropped nine points. For African-Americans, it dropped another eight.
- Prior to the announcement, Nike enjoyed a +69 favorable impression among all demographics. It has now dropped to +35
Nike aired its first “Just Do It” ad narrated by Kaepernick, during Thursday night’s NFL season opener between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles, which kicked off the 99th season. And interestingly enough, despite this renewed controversy, there wasn’t a single player who took the knee.
US President Donald Trump criticized Nike's decision to make Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign, calling it a "terrible message" https://t.co/8JGDlB3iJW pic.twitter.com/7ZtBbajhwL
— CNN International (@cnni) September 5, 2018
According to USA Today, “Two Philadelphia Eagles players – defensive end Michael Bennett and Jay Ajayi – took seats on the bench near the end of the Star-Spangled Banner, but that was the extent of it. All of the Atlanta Falcons players stood at attention for the duration, as did the bulk of the Eagles, while the Philadelphia-bred R&B group Boyz II Men sang the anthem. Safety Malcolm Jenkins did not raise a fist during the protest as he did at times last season and in the preseason, but he wore a shirt that read “Ca$h bail = poverty trap” in pregame warmups. Jenkins is among the Eagles players who have met with state representatives to push for criminal justice reform.”
I guess nobody in the NFL wants to be the next Colin Kaepernick.
And given how the NFL’s fanbase responded to Kaepernick’s protest, it’s not hard to see why. After beginning his protest when he was still a player, Kaepernick entered the field to boos everywhere, including even his hometown of liberal San Francisco. If his protest was unpopular with the NFL fanbase in San Francisco, where could they possibly be popular?
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The NFL ended up seeing a 10-percent year end drop in viewers last season, and became the least popular sports league. That’s a trend no one in the NFL wants to continue. Most of those who tuned out gave the same reason for doing so: politics.
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