Kaepernick x Nike: Being a Lifestyle Brand Means Using Your Voice
Nike’s latest campaign has caused quite an uproar as the company decided to use Colin Kaepernick as the face of this campaign. Kaepernick is an ex-NFL quarterback, who’s protest included kneeling for the national anthem, and resulted in him being blackballed by the NFL. Colin himself has represented a controversial figure as some feel that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to the United States and to the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for the US, while others view it as a symbol of hope and strength for the disheartening treatment they face and the daily battles fought on U.S. soil.
Nike has always been one of my favorite brands not from a sneaker perspective but from a branding perspective. Nike has positioned itself as a top brand not only in the United States, but across the world. A level that every company aspires to reach, but most importantly what has set Nike aside is the company’s innate drive to use its platform in a meaningful way. The same way in which Kaepernick decided to use his platform.
It is easy to be a salesperson; create a product, market said product, and generate revenue, what is not easy is being a brand of substance in times whereas journalist Laura Ingraham put it you should just, “shut up and dribble.” Athletes are encouraged to keep putting on a show, keep selling consumers' favorite products, but when it comes down to addressing things that directly affect our society, they are encouraged to silence themselves, and leave using their voices to the politicians, the professionals, the shot callers, and focus on the one thing they are “here for”-appeal to the masses and make more money for institutions.
This campaign was tailored to Kaepernick’s experience, not the quote or tag line. This campaign should not serve as an addition to the never ending racial tensions, but it should serve as a beacon of progression and equality. Kaepernick’s message and what he took a knee for is most definitely is positive representation for me and shouldn’t be swept under a rug. He used his platform not as a means of disrespect but to bring awareness to significant issues that black people face each day. The issues that terrify me and have in the past kept me up at night. It’s one thing to have an opinion about the black experience, and it is a completely different thing to have experienced life as a black person.
Our perspective is crafted by our experiences and our experiences in this country are different than those of our white counterparts, so the only way to change the narrative is to change our skin color, which we all know will never happen. The truth is, black people are often treated differently based solely on our race. It’s not a good feeling and I wish it were different, but from my firsthand experiences, I can say the playing field is often uneven.
In running this campaign, Nike has marked its position. The company is neither for one group and against the other, but using the tools that it has to be an advocate for using your voice, for progression, for equality. I don’t understand how you see anything negative within this message. A message that at its core is saying, treat people right, not just some people, but ALL people.
I am honored to be a supporter of both Kaepernick and Nike. As a major brand, whether corporate or personal, never let anyone silence you. “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Until next time,