Nike made a great business Move,
Your Move Under Armor
Nike recently launched their new campaign and displayed their employee, Colin Kaepernick as the face of their 30-year anniversary.
This is a great business move for Nike. Nike used to sit on the top of the athletic world. They are still the king but there are certainly companies eating away at their market share. Adidas, the European based company that used to be the biggest name in the game is making inroads again in their storied rivalry. Under Armor has made headlines the last couple of years for the big names they have wrested from Nike (Steph Curry, Jordan Spieth). Nike needs something big. And this is big.
Nike is receiving wall to wall coverage from every fountain of media. Sports, cable, local and social media continue to talk and talk and talk about Nike, launching its name recognition into the stratosphere (kind of reminds you of a reality TV star who decided to launch a political career through the same strategy, worked pretty well for him). Any company will take the free advertisement. Seriously, the reasons these sports outfitting companies spend all this money on athlete endorsements is for the advertising. Who better than Colin Kaepernick to get that. He’s a guy who hasn’t been relevant in his sport for years and yet still makes headline news on a regular basis. He’s the perfect face of a company.
Kaepernick’s jersey was the #1 selling jersey last year, and he didn’t play for a team. What business would not want to jump on those dollars.
Also, most black American’s agree with Kaepernick and support his protest, Nike is doubling down on their main consumer and the trend setters within American culture. Black culture has been the movers and shakers within American sports products for 30 years now. By making Kaepernick, Lebron James and Serena Williams the centers of their campaign they signal to their most loyal fanbase, and others who might be sympathetic to their cause, that their brand represents them.
Are there all sorts of hypocrisies and inconsistency with making Kaepernick the face of their brand? Of course there is, but this is advertising.
Did Kaepernick really lose everything going from a back-up quarterback on the worst team in the league to now the face of one of America’s largest corporations, no of course not. Is pretending his sacrifice is the same as military members or even police officers that he depicts as pigs on his socks a little insulting, yeah it is. But this is advertising. Just me spending my day writing about it has made the signing worth it for Nike.
More than likely the decision makers at Nike agree politically with most of what Kaepernick stands for. Making the courage a little less believable but the decision more understandable.
So, what does Under Armor, Nike’s American competitor, do with the door Nike has thrown open to them?
If they were wanting to play the same game Nike is playing they would launch a campaign that was as patriotic as it was non-partisan. They could highlight military members. They could praise police officers, firefighters and EMTs. They could launch a whole campaign around the American flag and invite all those disgusted with Nike’s choices into their camp.
But is any of this really good for America.
I would argue not at all. In a country that is fraught with political, philosophical and intellectual divisions, for corporations to prey on those divisions will only divide it further. Do they have every right and ability to do it, yes. But should the type of shoe you wear really be segregated by your political philosophy?
The biggest criticism of Kaepernick’s actions is he took an apolitical zone and further politicized it. In 2018, where is a safe place where people who disagree on abortion, taxation and the government but still be unified as Americans?
Sports has been tainted in political debate. Our entertainment industry has been for a generation now. If we allow it to enter our buying habits what keeps us united at all?
As one who finds Kaepernick’s points deeply flawed I refuse to stop shopping at Nike because of their political stance. The Nike clothes and shoes in my closet will stay right there and continue to be used. I will still wear my Under Armor shoes because I like them better than Nike. Not because of Nike’s advertising campaign.
Because Colin Kaepernick and I can disagree on politics, we can disagree on the treatment of black Americans in 2018, we can disagree on who to vote for in November, but we can both enjoy the same sports, we can both enjoy athletic apparel and we can both be Americans.