Nike’s long-running “Just Do It” campaign is geared toward getting consumers to pay attention to the brand, but analysts say its decision to add Colin Kaepernick risks drawing the wrong type of notice.
Shares of the shoe and apparel giant dropped $2.16, or 2.6 percent, to $80.04 in early trading after the company announced that the unsigned free agent would join the company’s signature campaign. Kaepernick is known for kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustice—a move that, he says, cost him his career. Dozens of other players and cheerleaders also kneeled during the anthem, spurring criticism from President Trump.
Not all Nike customers took the news well, with many posting on Twitter their intent to boycott the company. Some users posted photos and videos of Nike products burning.
Country musician John Rich said on Twitter that his soundman was cutting off the Nike logo from his socks in protest, although it was not clear if the swoosh-less socks would continue to be worn.
Others said that the negative reactions to Nike’s ad proved that civil protest was still necessary. Nike, which has enjoyed an enviable runup in its stock this year, can afford to take political positions, others said.
Anyone participating in a #NikeBoycott is proving exactly why #ColinKaepernick was kneeling in the first place: because too many white people value their songs and flags and privilege, above the lives of people of color.https://t.co/b7uTtOsOGH
I’m support #Nike— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) September 4, 2018
Nike is certainly provoking debate by hiring Kaepernick, GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders said in a report, while noting the risks of a company getting involved in a “highly politicized” issue. Marketing campaigns typically aim to generate positive buzz, rather than engaging in ways that may divide consumers.
“This means it could ultimately alienate and lose customers, which is not the purpose of a marketing campaign,” Saunders wrote. “Although the company’s stand may go down well on its native West Coast, it will be far less welcome in many other locations.”
Despite slipping ahead of markets opening in the U.S., Nike shares are up more than 30 percent this year through the close of trade on Friday.