Nike’s recent ad featuring Colin Kaepernick has created quite a bit of controversy. In 2016, Kaepernick decided to protest racial injustice by kneeling on one knee during the national anthem before NFL games, instead of standing. Of course, this created a firestorm of debate among the public and many felt that he was showing disrespect for the United States in general and that he — and any other players that joined him in protest — should be fired. But there were positive responses as well — and recently Nike choose Kaepernick to be the face of their recent ad campaign.
But this decision has upset many people and organizations. According to USA Today, Mississippi’s public safety commissioner said that the state agency, which includes the state police, will no longer be allowed to buy Nike products due to the Colin Kaepernick ad campaign. In a statement, Commissioner Marshall Fisher said, “As commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, I will not support vendors who do not support law enforcement and our military.”
This decision is similar to one made by a Louisiana mayor last week. The mayor banned Nike products from booster club purchases, but later backtracked the order after advice from the city’s attorney.
Despite the criticism and boycotting of Nike’s products, most people seem to actually support the company’s decision to use Kaepernick in their ads. Nike’s stock surged over 30 percent following the ad campaign. According to CNN, the company also gained 170,000 Instagram followers and an Instagram post showing Kaepernick was the second-most-liked post in Nike’s history.
According to marketing experts, this campaign helped raise Nike’s brand awareness and also sent a strong message to their primary customers. Two-thirds of the company’s customers are under the age of 35.
An analyst said, “[Nike] communicated to them in a way that is authentic, culturally relevant, experiential and emotionally engaging.” According to an SSRS Omnibus poll, 44 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 agree with Nike’s decision, while 32 percent opposed it. Among people 35 to 44, 52 percent supported the decision and 37 percent opposed it.
Time reports that Mississippi’s move is already drawing criticism from the Mississippi chapter of the ACLU and Democratic lawmakers. “These are the people that are representing all Mississippians. These are the people that are creating policies that impact all of our lives. These are the people that took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Yet they refuse to understand what equality, justice, and accountability means. This petty decision is just another show of racism, discrimination, stupidity, inequity, and divisive politics,” a statement from the local ACLU chapter reads.