Colin Kaepernick Ad Pushes Nike Social Media Brand Mentions Up 135% - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Nike’s stock may be down, but its social media impressions are drastically up following the launch of its new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, one of the most polarizing athletes in sports.

The billion-dollar athletic apparel company marked the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign with a new ad on Monday that pictures a close-up of Kaepernick with the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The former NFL quarterback has not played professional football since he was signed with the San Francisco 49er in 2016 and began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. The #TakeAKnee protest has triggered both an outpour of support and a firestorm of backlash from critics like President Donald Trump, who call the protest unpatriotic and disrespectful toward the American flag and military servicemen and servicewomen.

Rather than remaining neutral in the heated debate, Nike placed the 30-year-old athlete at the center of a major campaign, sparking an emotional fray on social media. Critics vowed not to purchase Nike products using hashtags like #NikeBoycott and #JustDont. Others went as far as to burn or cut their swoosh-branded clothes and sneakers.

According to social media analytics firm Talkwaker, there have been more than 2.7 million mentions of Nike and counting since Monday. That’s a 1,400% increase compared to the previous day. Plus, Nike brand mentions increased by 135% compared to last week.

Top social posts include a tweet from Serena Williams, who is also part of Nike’s new campaign. The post has garnered more than 178,000 engagements—a mix of likes and retweets, Talkwalker reported.

Los Angeles Laker Kyle Kuzma also showed support for Kaepernick in a Tweet that received more than 43,000 engagements.

In addition, sports reporter Jemele Hill posted a tweet championing Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick in their campaign that went viral with 76,000 engagements.

On the other hand, many tweets critical of Nike’s campaign and/or calling for a boycott also went viral, including a post from @BridgetPhetasy that received 57K engagements.

A post from @CharlieKirk with 46K engagements reads:

Likewise, a tweet from country music star John Rich received 40,000 engagements.

Meanwhile, shares of Nike Inc., NKE, -2.68%, dropped about 3.0% in midday trade on Tuesday. Nevertheless, Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel said the backlash Nike is experiencing won’t last long. “No doubt, [Nike’s] decision to feature Kaepernick prominently in its latest marking effort will spur significant debate among those in athletic circles and more broadly,” Nagel said, according to MarketWatch. “Over time, for [Nike], we think the power of the messaging from this new broader campaign is apt to overshadow any potential backlash, near term, in our view.”

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Selena Hill

Selena Hill is the Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and an award-winning multi-media journalist.


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