Sacrificing or Cashing In?

Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign created controversy, but spiked sales in the process.

Just months before their record-breaking “Just Do It” campaign released, Nike nearly dropped Colin Kaepernick.

The risky business decision to keep him under contract appears to have paid off. Billboards and commercials around America were headlined with Colin Kaepernick’s voice narrating, and the statement “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” on September 5th, 2018.

The ad campaign has been incredibly successful.

Nike was hesitant to use it, though. Kaepernick has been a Nike sponsored athlete since 2012, when he broke out as a star of the San Francisco 49ers and led the team to the 2013 Super Bowl. His career fell off, though, and between 2012 and 2018 lost his starting job in San Francisco, began a national movement, and has become one of the most hated, and adored, athletes in America.

Kaepernick drew heavy criticism from football fans and conservatives in America, and this is why people didn’t understand the move. The movement was led by President Donald Trump, who has made it clear he isn’t fond of Nike’s decision. “I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it,” said the President during an interview with The Daily Caller.

However, Nike executives took a risk in order to appeal to their largest clientele: millennials.

According to the Washington Post, close to 50% of millenial men identify with the democratic party, and they are the ones who will buy the majority of their products.

Additionally, a poll conducted by The Harris Poll states that 29 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 29 will buy more Nike products.

“Nike took a strategic risk to alienate some customers in order to appeal to their core base of 18- to 29-year old males,” said Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema September of 2018. “It was a calculated move to become a more polarizing brand, and it seems to have worked.”

Although the majority of Riverside’s students do not fall in this demographic, both males and females identify with the campaigns values. Durham, and Riverside specifically, is a liberal leaning community, and many students support Nike and Kaepernick.

“He’s advocating for something he believes in,” said senior Brian Aimerich. “It’s a different approach, but so be it he hasn’t harmed anybody. It was a business decision and it has helped business.”

However, Riverside’s more conservative students disagree with Nike’s decision to use Kaepernick, mostly because they feel his action of kneeling during the National Anthem. Many conservatives feel that it is disrespectful to army veterans, and it certainly shouldn’t be praised.

“This flag is something that men have fought for,” said senior Sam Tucker. “Nike knew there was a controversy around [the ad] yet they continued to promote it.”

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