Our nation is easily divided by controversy and opposing opinions. It has always been like this. Martin Luther King Jr. once said,”The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This is directly related to the controversy of Colin Kaepernick and the recent Nike ad campaign.
Nike launched what could be considered one of their most controversial ads in the company’s history. However, it wasn't the initial message of the advertisement that shocked and enraged many in the U.S.; it was Nike’s bold decision to utilize the controversial former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, as the face of their message. Kaepernick had been a player for the San Francisco 49ers, when he resolved to use his wide-spread platform to take a stand, or rather a knee, to protest against police brutality towards minorities. He is now famously known as the instigator of players kneeling during the National Anthem. His silent protest sparked rage and distrust among some Americans, as they believed that he and the others that joined him were disrespecting the men and women who had fought for their rights, and had disrespected the country as a whole. President Trump even initially turned to Twitter to comment that the players who had taken a knee for the Anthem were, “sons of b*tches.”
It could be said that the Nike ad has torn off the proverbial scab of the situation; it has opened the issue and continued conversations of the controversial act of kneeling during the Anthem, as well as the topic of police brutality. The ad provoked many who saw it to turn from Nike and begin to burn their Nike products as well as boycott the apparel brand as a whole. A pastor in Alabama took it upon himself to cut and tear Nike gear during one of his sermons while the congregation cheered and laughed at the commotion. Many people have stormed to various social media platforms to comment and argue their own views on the ad. On September 5, 2018, the President commented, “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!” And many agreed with him.
A majority of Americans had believed that Nike sales rates would dramatically drop due to the boycotts that had began early last week. However, to the surprise of many, Nike’s online sales increased by 31%. Nike had no shame in supporting its views and ad as a whole throughout the beginning of the controversy. Nike also took to their Twitter account to comment each and every major line of their full advertisement script.
The advertisement, as well, has been changed and used by many on social media, as well as a homecoming court candidate at Sandia. Tyler Shepard, who is running for homecoming king this week, posted flyers around the campus that read, “Vote Tyler Shepard for HOCO King. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just vote Tyler Shepard.”
As famous and wide spread the conversation of the ad have been, there is an abundance of misunderstandings pertaining to the intentions of Nike releasing the ad. Many believe that it was to support a man that they believe to be disrespecting the nation. However, in those views, they overlook Nike’s use of many other extraordinary people who achieved a high level of success against all odds, and against the doubts of many others. Nike chose the powerful message to, “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”And that is the message that drove the entirety of the inspirational ad.
Throughout the events, more players continue to join and kneel during the National Anthem in support of Kaepernick’s movement. Players on the Dolphins made the news as recent as the 16th of September for kneeling, and Kaepernick decided to show his support of them through a post on social media that stated, “My brothers continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed! They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward. Love is the root of our resistance.”