Nike hasn’t pulled any punches with their latest advertising campaign after drafting in the NFL player who sparked mass controversy after taking a knee during the national anthem.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become one of the faces in Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ 30th anniversary campaign.
In 2016, Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before a game in protest of police violence against African-Americans.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
His actions started a widespread movement across the league, with a number of players following his lead and splitting America’s opinions straight down the middle.
Donald Trump was vocal in his criticism of the players who chose to take a knee during the anthem, suggesting that their actions “disrespected” the US flag, calling those who did so “sons of bitches”.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,’” Mr Trump said.
“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
His comments only spurred players on further though.
Kaepernick has not played in the National Football League (NFL) since last year, and is suing the organisation, arguing team owners deliberately froze him out because of his activism.
Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of branding for North America, was quoted by cable sports network ESPN as saying: “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.”
Nike’s decision has predictably split the opinion of consumers, with many using the #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt hashtags on Twitter.
— Andrew H. Scott (@CommissionerKY) September 4, 2018
Kaepernick remained on a contract with Nike throughout the kneeling row.
In May the NFL announced that teams with players who knelt during the anthem would be fined and said players not willing to stand could remain in the changing rooms until after the anthem.
However the new policy is yet to be imposed as negotiations between the league and the players’ union are ongoing.
Awesome new Nike “Just Do It” ads pic.twitter.com/JFaAfm3ize
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 3, 2018