- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
- Nike is seeing backlash online following the release of a new ad starring Colin Kaepernick. Some critics are threatening to boycott the brand.
- Kaepernick was the first to kneel during the national anthem before NFL games to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
- People quickly began threatening to boycott Nike in response to the ad, with some even burning their shoes.
Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad is sparking threats of boycott, with critics saying they’ll be shopping for shoes from New Balance, Under Armour, or Adidas instead.
On Monday, Kaepernick shared an image of his face on Twitter with the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Nike retweeted the image, which reportedly kicks off a new multiyear deal between the former NFL player and the sportswear company.
Kaepernick was first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem before games in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Some have accused Kaepernick and players who followed in his footsteps as disrespecting the American flag and the military. Among the most prominent critics is President Donald Trump, who began criticizing the practice last September and has called for protesting players to be fired.
Nike’s ad sparked boycott threats online.
— Veaz (@VeazeyJohn) September 4, 2018
You just alienated a huge part of you potential sales. Will never buy Nike again. #boycottnike
— Gary Honaski (@honaskidesign) September 3, 2018
— ????????????????James Gun???????????????? (@Laser_KSG) September 4, 2018
Nike’s Facebook page has been flooded with criticism of the ad.
“Just bought a pair of nikes yesterday not knowing about this, but NOW I will be returning them!!!” one comment says. “Bad choice your company made!! People who truly love this country will not be buying your product!”
“Guess what my son is NOT getting for school this year… No more Nike purchases by this Patriotic Mom!” another says.
Some critics of the ad pledged to spend more money with Nike’s rivals. Two competitors, however – Adidas and Puma – reportedly considered signing Kaepernick themselves.
Congratulations to @adidas for a wonderful win in business today!
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) September 3, 2018
Under Armour is a great American company that supports our military. So F*ck You Nike! I'll never buy any of your poorly mad apparel again. #boycottnike
— Action Dan (@ActionDan247) September 3, 2018
Jordan had me a Nike guy since I was in 6th grade. I’m going strictly Adidas and Under Armour now. Unbelievable
— Dylan Wilde (@wilde_dylan) September 3, 2018
What an appropriate symbol on the merchandise of NIKE: “ The Check” because I just CHECKED you off my list!! Watch New Balance soar in sales; Love their shoes a whole lot better anyway. Thanks Nike when shopping in making my shoe and workout clothes’s choices so much easier!!
— Christy (@Christy56074523) September 4, 2018
A few people even posted photos of themselves destroying Nike shoes and socks. The destruction inspired mockery on the left, with at least one observer noting that homeless veterans’ groups could use donations of unwanted Nike products.
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
As is often the case, many supporters of the ad spoke out on social media to say the controversy only made them more likely to buy more Nike products.
I've always been a New Balance girl.
But I'm gonna go get me some Nikes today.
— The Evolving Arm (@leftarmisme) September 4, 2018
So, what you’re saying, @Nike, is that I’m going to have to go out and buy sports equipment….. ✊????????
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) September 4, 2018
The people who were burning Tiki torches last year are burning Nike shoes this year. Either way, you’ve got to buy ‘em to burn ‘em. Can’t be too bad for Tiki or Nike. I’ll be buying Nikes for the first time in years this week. To wear. #NikeBoycott
— Ali A. Rizvi (@aliamjadrizvi) September 4, 2018
Nike did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment on the boycott threats.
The business repercussions of Kaepernick’s ad are unclear. While many boycotts have proved to be empty threats with little impact on sales, a few – such as a 2016 boycott of Target – have actually affected companies’ bottom lines.
Read more about Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad:
- Trump tweets that Nike is ‘getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts’ over its Colin Kaepernick ad
- Nike ignited a firestorm of fury with its new Colin Kaepernick ad, but it’s still a brilliant strategy
- People are destroying their Nike shoes and socks to protest Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign
- Trump says Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick sends ‘a terrible message’
- Trump says Nike pays ‘a lot of rent’ in an interview about the new Colin Kaepernick ad
- Nike’s polarizing new Colin Kaepernick ad shows it can succeed where Starbucks and Target failed
- The NFL released a statement backing players protesting social issues, including Colin Kaepernick
- ‘Few companies can afford to anger that many consumers and survive’: Branding experts say Nike may have gotten exactly what it wanted with its controversial new Colin Kaepernick ad