Colin Kaepernick made a massive personal statement when he refused to stand for the United States national anthem in 2016.
His career hit rock bottom a bit like the share price of Nike when they announced him as the brand ambassador to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the #JustDoIt campaign.
However, could it be that both will be vindicated and know what they are doing?
For Kaepernick his protest was heartfelt and sincere reflected in the Nike advert slogan of ‘Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything’. He almost did. His career plummeted, and he eventually lost his contract and remains persona non-gratis for most basketball teams. A career cut short.
For Nike within minutes of his appointment being announced their share price temporarily dropped and there were protests on the street as ardent patriots, because the US is the home of the patriot, burnt their trainers and shared #BurnYourNikes.
However, Kaepernick wasn’t the only #brand ambassador Nike revealed using Muslim women, disabled athletes and young blacks to encourage young people to follow their dreams and dare to believe they can achieve their goals.
And therein lies the rub. Nike know their audience. Their target market are young metropolitans who pride themselves on their open liberal beliefs who connect more easily with all Nike’s brand ambassadors. Their target audience is also international. While the US is a big part of their market they have global appeal and issues such as racial inequality, gender diversity and ability inclusion have international appeal.
It’s still early days and Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a new playing contract, but for the meantime it seems that standing up for what he believes in has given him credibility with an audience and a sports equipment contract. For Nike there was a momentary blip in their share price followed by a steady realignment and a spike in their online show sales. It may have been cynical, but it was also a potential gamble that paid off because they ‘Believed in Something’.
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