Nike’s new ad campaign gets an unwitting boost from the US President.
For a self-proclaimed marketing genius and brand wizard who operated on the principle that all publicity is good publicity, US President Donald Trump’s splenetic response to Nike’s new ad campaign, featuring activist and out-of-work football player Colin Kaepernick, was, in a sense, surprising.
Of course, President Trump has to take sides in every skirmish of the culture war he constantly seeks to exploit, but his reaction will have delighted Nike executives since it virtually guarantees the campaign will be successful. “What was Nike thinking?”, he tweeted, apparently oblivious to the fact that he was providing the answer to his own question.
Trump applauded those who torched Nike gear to register their disgust and claimed the sportswear giant was getting “killed” on the stock market. Nike shares did shed a couple of dollars but rebounded to end the week at US$80.30. To put that in perspective, the share price at the start of the year was $63.49, and online sales have boomed since the campaign was launched.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there was discomfort with what was characterised as an amoral multinational in effect paying Kaepernick for his protest against racial injustice and police brutality (in 2016, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback refused to stand for the national anthem).
Another way of looking at it is that Nike is compensating Kaepernick for loss of income after he was, to all intents and purposes and with Trump’s tacit encouragement, blacklisted by the NFL’s rich, white owners.