The beginning of a movement: Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the anthem before a game in 2016.
By ADAM FOSTER
Social media users destroyed Nike products in response to its marketing campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick – the first man to kneel during the anthem at an NFL football match – but the brand has bounced back from the controversy.
Fortune reported yesterday that Nike's stock hit a record high after their products starting selling out more regularly, and its overall market value had risen $6 billion.
Footage of people burning and cutting up various Nike products flooded social media sites in protest to their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” ad campaign.
Kaepernick was heavily criticised when he started kneeling while the US national anthem was playing before NFL games in 2016.
He said he did it to draw attention to the issue of mistreatment of minorities in the country and ongoing cases of police brutality.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour,” Kaepernick said in a press conference after first sitting out during the anthem. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Social media users protested against Nike’s support of his views by destroying their products.
Monash University marketing lecturer Dr Luke Greenacre said this attention and act of protest was unlikely to have a negative impact on the value of the Nike brand.
“This will have a negligible impact on sales for Nike,” said Dr Greenacre.
Within the first 24 hours of the campaign’s release, Nike gained more than A$59 million in media exposure alone – the most it has ever received from a social media campaign.
Mr Greenacre said he doubted the controversy would have any lasting impact.
“It’s one of those things that people will talk about this week, but they’ll probably forget about it by next week,” Mr Greenacre said.
“Social media moves in a dynamic way, and there’s new issues happening daily that push others to the side.”
A wave of support has also come Nike’s way, with supporters criticising those destroying Nike products by responding through social media posts of their own.
Nike fan Dominic Zaia said the campaign was not going to affect his opinion of the brand.
“Personally, political views don’t turn me away from companies, unless [if] they did something that affected me in how I’m treated,” Mr Zaia said.
Mr Zala and many other Nike fans said they agreed with Nike’s decision to support Kaepernick’s views and actions.
“It’s nice to see big name brands support movements that may have a positive impact in changing today’s world.”