With Nike debuting its “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad featuring polarizing ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick yesterday, those with an opinion on his protests and the brand have time to digest the campaign and weigh in — including retailers active in footwear.
While there is a clear divide in the country, with some in favor of Kaepernick’s stance against social injustice and others firm that his form of protest is disrespectful to the U.S. military and anti-American, renowned retailers have applauded the efforts of the Swoosh to back the athlete.
“I think Nike is on the right side of history here. Over time, we’ll come to realize what this is, and probably think better of Nike,” explained Ankur Amin, CEO of TGS (the parent company of Extra Butter, Rise, Rooted and Renarts).
Amin continued, “This is a huge positive move for a global brand, a Fortune 500 brand, to take a stand on a hot topic like this. Business or not, we have responsibilities to stand by what we believe in, and I think Nike is acting on that. This tells me Nike truly believes in this topic as being something they should support and are standing by it, regardless of how it impacts them in the short term or how a certain part of the population views this action.”
And James Whitner, owner of renowned boutique Social Status, told FN that this will further help Nike engage its consumers with greater authenticity.
“I think it’s important for brands to have a voice and stand for their beliefs,” he said. “When you take a stand rather right or wrong, it helps you connect to the world in a real way.”
Whitner continued, “The current political climate is tough and many people are passionate about their beliefs, but right and wrong are objective points, not beliefs. Social [and] economic injustice is real, it’s an objective thing, and it must a part of the conversation.”
The retail store owners who are in favor of Nike featuring Kaepernick in its campaign also believe this won’t hurt the brand’s business.
“I have the utmost respect for Nike and how they do anything — nothing is on a whim. I’m sure there’s been 1,000 conversations and 1,000 scenarios played out about how this would impact their business before a strategy like this is implemented,” Amin said. “I would have to imagine that they know the repercussions, short and long term.” (For more on how Kaepernick’s role with Nike could impact its business, click here.)
Nike revealed the Kaepernick ad yesterday on social media, a black-and-white photo of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback with the phrase, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Kaepernick, who hasn’t played pro football since the 2016 season, is one of several athletes featured in the campaign. Others who are part of the “Just Do It” 30th anniversary lineup include tennis icon Serena Williams, New York Giants star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and football rookie Shaquem Griffin, who needed his left hand amputated at 4 years old due to amniotic band syndrome.