Why Nike's Latest 'Just Do It' Campaign With Colin Kaepernick Has People Talking

"Believe in something."

Sneaker brand Nike made a bold statement on Monday when the company revealed that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the new face of its latest campaign. The choice has, unsurprisingly, inspired varied reactions on social media.

The new ad, marking 30 years of the "Just do it" slogan, features a black-and-white close-up of Kaepernick's face and reads, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." Kaepernick shared it on Twitter Monday.


In 2016, Kaepernick started a national conversation by choosing not to stand during the national anthem, in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. The gesture has since inspired other NFL players to take a knee and speak up about social justice.

Kaepernick, who became a free agent last year, has filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing the league of conspiring not to sign him because of his activism. Last week, an arbitrator allowed the case to advance to a full hearing.

According to ESPN, Nike signed Kaepernick in 2011 and has kept him on the endorsement roster, although it has not used him in the past two years. Gino Fisanotti, Nike's vice president of brand for North America, told the outlet that the company hopes to reach "a new generation of athletes" with the new 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," Fisanotti said. According to the New York Times, Nike will also produce new Kaepernick apparel, as well as donating to his "Know Your Rights" campaign.

While many, including tennis star Serena Williams (who stars in a new Nike ad of her own), have praised the brand for spotlighting the outspoken athlete, others have shared their criticism of the decision. Actor Patrick J. Adams echoed the thoughts of several users when he tweeted that Nike was "turning activism into profit."

The ad has also received backlash from those who disagree with Kaepernick's protest and the movement it inspired in the NFL. Some announced their plans to boycott Nike, and others even destroyed the products they already owned from the brand.

Although CNBC reports that Nike's shares fell on Tuesday morning, some believe the company's decision could have a major impact on the NFL. As Nancy Armour points out in USA Today, Nike is the "official apparel company of the league." 

"Doing the right thing isn't always easy, especially in the moment. But this moment, and who stood for what during it, will be remembered for generations to come," Armour writes. "It's time to take a stand, NFL. Go ahead and do it."

The NFL's policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem was put on hold earlier this summer, as the league is in talks with the Players Association. With the 2018 season beginning this Thursday, it will be interesting to see how things progress, and if Nike's partnership with Kaepernick will have any effect.

Cover image: Ga Fullner / Shutterstock.com


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