The two problematic sides to the latest Nike outrage

Will Patterson

Will Patterson

Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” ad campaign has gone viral—just as planned. Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player widely known for refusing to stand during the national anthem, is the new face of Nike’s latest ad series.

The uproar was immediate. Polarized Nike fans took to social media immediately. While some voices echoed support for the company’s decision, others cried for widespread boycotts. According to the Washington Post, videos of people burning Nike gear and slashing the iconic swoosh logo from gear went viral. The hashtag #BoycottNike started trending as the chaos unfolded.

This situation has plenty of different angles. For starters, the hatred towards Kaepernick has always been unfair. A man nonviolently protesting something he cares deeply about should be celebrated, not shunned.

When debates about Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter break out, many individuals turn towards military-related points. Phrases like “refusal to stand is disrespecting our troops” are thrown around like baseballs.

Many people forget that the national anthem represents the entire United States of America–not just those who serve in the armed forces. Every single person is represented through that flag—even Kaepernick. He is a part of this country, and he can choose how he acts during the national anthem. There is no obligation.

Here’s the real kicker—Nike’s marketing team got exactly what they wanted. A viral hashtag, plenty of media coverage and a whole new demographic—young activists.

Some may remember when Pepsi attempted to profit from activism. Their advertisement showed a protest group—vaguely resembling a Black Lives Matter protest—and Kendall Jenner. When protesters come face-to-face with police in the advertisement, Jenner brings peace by offering a Pepsi to a smiling policeman. It didn’t sit well with many actual activists.

Nike might have even taken notes from Pepsi’s debacle. Unlike Pepsi’s failed Kendall Jenner advertisement, Nike didn’t beat around the bush. The company took a clear, well-defined stance.

The fact is that activists who fall for Nike’s ad campaign are buying into an organization with a checkered past. When Nike sweatshops first entered the public’s gaze, protests and boycotts erupted across the world.

Overall, those who genuinely believe Kaepernick is or ever has disrespected the nation need to reconsider how peaceful protesting should function in our society. And for activists looking to buy their first pair of Nikes’—don’t. The organization seeks profit, not justice.