Opinion: Is Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ‘Just Do It’ deal really stupid — or incredibly shrewd?

Marketing Land


The apparel giant might have intentionally embraced controversy for longer-term gains with key audiences.

Many marketing pundits and talking heads are now asking whether Nike’s “Just Do It” anniversary deal with NFL quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick is one of the stupidest marketing decisions ever. Is Nike crazy — or crazy like a fox?

Given the protests and counter-protests that have surrounded other brands taking political or value-based stands since the 2016 election, Nike had to have known that it would bring controversy if not outright boycotts from some quarters. But that may have been part of the calculation for the sports-apparel giant.

Indeed, thousands of those opposed to Kaepernick’s activism tweeted or retweeted images of burned or destroyed Nike shoes and other Nike apparel.


While social conservatives and others on social media called for boycotts, it’s not clear how much this sentiment will extend into real-world buying behavior and offline conversations. An Engagement Labs analysis of audience reactions to various brand controversies concluded that social media conversations are not necessarily a good predictor of “real life” activity and attitudes.

Read the full Marketing Land article, here.

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