Why companies should follow Nike’s example

Kristin Boyles, Contributing Writer

You don’t have to watch football to know about Colin Kaepernick and his activism. National outrage sparked from his decision to take a knee during the National Anthem before football games.

Many diehard NFL fans were appalled by his actions, including political figures such as President Donald Trump.

Now that “Take a Knee” has become an entire movement, a controversial one at that, the brand Nike has decided to make Colin Kaepernick the new face of their ads. Nike is beloved by people of various age groups and demographics, as can be seen simply by looking around our campus.

Since publicly endorsing Kaepernick, there has been quite a bit of backlash from those who are blatantly opposed to “Take a Knee,” and while some might think that this is only going to make Nike’s sales plummet, I believe it to be a good thing they have sparked so much controversy. In fact, it is necessary that big brand names be able to take a stand for what they believe in, rather than watch passively out of fear of ridicule or low sales.

If a brand like Nike is willing to make an advocate for social justice their brand’s face, it will undoubtedly do wonders for exposure of said injustice that is so prevalent in our society. Considering Nike is a popular brand of clothing and sneakers with the younger generations, this controversial endorsement allows our youth to be involved in inciting social change. Nike made this move intentionally, as Martha C. White wrote for NBC News, “Nike is a company that is focused on younger generations and expanding their market. This ad did that for them.” Which is, of course, true.

Making Colin Kaepernick the face of Nike draws attention to not only the social injustices he advocates against, but also to their brand. So while, sure, sales could potentially decline from avid, pro-National Anthem NFL fans, the younger generations that are becoming more accustomed to expressing their opinions on important social issues, might now be more inclined to go out and buy a new pair of Nike shoes or a jacket, simply because the company endorses what is, in this instance, the fight against inequality.

Being able to express their support for something, despite how damaging it could be to their sales and/or reputation, is important in our current political and social climate. We need companies to be transparent in their stances on certain issues in order to become better, more-informed individuals.

White also asserts in her article “What boycott?” that this “isn’t the first time the athletic apparel company has used its brand platform to advocate for a cause or push for social change.” We need companies who are willing to support an ever-changing not only national, but global environment.
To be able to see this kind of support from big-name companies is inspiring for not only millennials and college students, but also for the children who are growing up and are, now, afforded the ability to learn about and incite social change. Nike’s endorsement of Colin Kaepernick is certainly not the first time the company has produced controversial advertising, and hopefully, it won’t be the last.

Kristin is a sophomore Secondary Education English major.