Pub­lic­ity 101

Nike’s new ad cam­paign gets an un­wit­ting boost from the US Pres­i­dent.

New Zealand Listener - - THIS LIFE -

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.

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