- Nike almost scrapped its controversial Colin Kaepernick campaign over fears people would be angry with the brand for associating with him.
- Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem before games in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
- The New York Times was told by Nike insiders that officials were concerned with the backlash of the campaign, but that a senior executive persuaded colleagues to keep it alive.
- The campaign launched on September 5 and led with a photo of Kaepernick with the caption: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
- Military families and commentators felt Kaepernick hadn’t sacrificed very much.
Nike executives were reportedly close to scrapping their campaign staring Colin Kaepernick in September because they feared they would be slammed by those who think kneeling for the anthem is un-American.
The New York Times said on Thursday that it spoke to two Nike insiders with information about a high-level meeting where executives came close to cutting ties with Kaepernick.
The Times report said that a top communications executive at the Oregon-based sportswear company persuaded colleagues to keep Kaepernick on board.
Nike told the Times: “It would be normal for a number of people to offer different perspectives. Final decisions are made as a group.”
The worries about the advertisement came as Nike feared negative publicity from those who don’t support Kaepernick’s decision to kneel.
Part of the commercial and poster, released on September 5, said: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” which prompted people to burn Nike products and demand people boycott the brand.
Nike CEO Mark Parker said overall Nike came off better from the Kaepernick saga, as he told analysts during an earnings call this week that the company saw “a real uptick in traffic and engagement, both socially and commercially,” the Times reported.
Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem before games in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Critics accused the protest of disrespecting the US flag and military, and Trump called for players who protested during the anthem to be fired.
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