Nike caught a lot of heat for making Colin Kaepernick the face of its new marketing campaign. But now the controversial move is paying off—big time.
The billion-dollar athletic apparel company marked the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign earlier this month with a new ad that features Kaepernick with the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The move was considered to be highly divisive since Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, launched the #TakeAKnee protest in 2016 when he was signed with the San Francisco 49er by kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. The protests spiraled into an ongoing movement that has received an outpouring of support and criticism alike from people who call it disrespectful of the American flag.
Nike fanned the flames in the national debate over #TakeAKnee when it placed the 30-year-old athlete at the center of a major campaign. In response, critics vowed not to purchase Nike products using hashtags like #NikeBoycott and #JustDont, while others burned or cut their Nike gear. President Donald Trump, one of Kaepernick’s biggest critics, blasted Nike, tweeting that the company was getting “absolutely killed with anger and boycotts” and questioning the company’s marketing strategy. To make matters worse, shares of Nike Inc. dropped about 3% one day after the campaign was released on social media.
The backlash, however, was short-lived. Ten days after the ad debuted on social media, Nike stock rose to an all-time high on Sept. 13 at $83.90 and then closed at $83.49 on Friday afternoon. That’s a 4% increase since the ad’s release on Sept. 3, according to CBS News. In addition, Nike’s online sales jumped nearly 31% from Sept. 2 through Sept. 4, which is nearly double the profit that the company garnered during the same period in 2017, according to a research report by Edison Trends.