This week, Nike launched a new ad campaign that celebrates the brand’s 30th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Nike featured several athletes with their famous “Just do it.” slogan. One of the athletes was Colin Kaepernick, former National Football League (NFL) quarterback, who started the national anthem protests that many Americans feel is disrespectful to the nation and military veterans.. Kaepernick attracted controversy when in 2016, he knelt during the playing of the U.S. national anthem prior to NFL games in protest to what he believed to be racial injustices against black Americans.
Kaepernick also pledged to donate one million dollars to “organizations working in oppressed communities.” In 2018, Kaeperkick announced that he would make the final $100,000 donation of his “Million Dollar Pledge” in the form of $10,000 donations to charities that would be matched by celebrities. In 2017, Kaepernick was named GQ magazine’s “Citizen of the Year” for his efforts.
In April 2018, Amnesty International honored Kaepernick with the 2018 Ambassador of Conscience Award. The award celebrates ‘individuals and groups who speak out for justice’. In a statement about the award, Kaepernick stated that Amnesty’s award was one shared “with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force”.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt,” Kaepernick tweeted out on Sunday. Some Nike customers responded immediately to the advertisement by destroying their own Nike shoes, socks and gears in protest.
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
— John Rich (@johnrich) September 3, 2018
No more nike! Burn it all! pic.twitter.com/fBPMeGz3j0
— roy (@BlakkgIass) September 4, 2018
Nike, I love your gear, but you exhaust my spirit on this one. Your new ad with Colin Kapernick, I get the message, but…
Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., and Shaquem Griffin are some of the other athletes featured in the Nike campaign. “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Gina Fisanotti, VP of Brand for Nike North America.
President Donald Trump has hit out at Nike’s campaign to make Kaepernick the face of their 30th-anniversary campaign as “a terrible, terrible idea.”
“I think it’s a terrible message – Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent,” Trump said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller.
“I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it. Maybe there’s a reason for them doing it,” he continued. “But I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it.”
“As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way — I mean, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said, but added, “In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”
Yahoo reported that the NFL reiterated their support for Kaepernick and other national anthem protesters, saying, “The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities. The social issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”