Nike’s “Dream Crazy” ad featuring Kaepernick receives backlash, but proves a good business move

Colin Kaepernick is the man under fire in Nike’s new ad.

Colin Kaepernick is the man under fire in Nike’s new ad.

by William Quansah and Erich Miller

Nike, the worldwide leader in the sports industry, has been under fire for their recent ad “Dream Crazy,” celebrating the 30 year anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign.

The ad is narrated by professional football player Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick tells the stories of athletic giants such as Lebron James, Eliud Kipchoge, Serena Williams, Alphonso Davies, Isaiah Bird, and many more. These athletes are achieving their dreams in sport on and off the playing field, despite setbacks. The ad is capped off with Kaepernick saying “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Nike stresses that athletes must be bigger than their sport.

On September 1, 2016 and at every game after that, Kaepernick, then a 49ers quarterback, sat or kneeled when the national anthem was being played before NFL games. He did this in protest of police brutality towards minorities in the United States.

Many people believe that he’s disrespecting the military, the flag, and The United States which is the main focal point of the anthem. Kaepernick opted out of his contract in March 2017, making him a free agent. He has not been picked up by any team in the National Football League. There is a court case pending on this issue regarding the NFL committing collusion.

Fast forward to Fall 2018 and Nike has Kaepernick as the narrator of their “Dream Crazy” advertisement leaving many surprised that Nike selected such a controversial player.

In response, many people have encouraged others both to stop buying Nike products, and, in some extreme cases, to burn their Nike clothes . It became such a controversy in Louisiana that Mayor Ben Zahn banned Nike products from being bought and sold by booster clubs.This ban has now been lifted due to the division it created.

From a financial point of view, Nike has been successful as online sales have increased by over 31%; the number of sold out products have increased by over 61%; and their stock reached an all time high of $85.84 on September 24, 2018. Many people are tarnishing the brand, but Nike is reaping the rewards.

Lancer Media put out a poll asking “Do you support Nike’s recent “Dream Crazy” advertising campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick?” The results were close: 44% Yes, 43% No, and 13% Not Sure.

Those who disapprove may fail to understand the message Nike wants each viewer to see. On Nike News, the official news site for Nike, an explanation of the ad was released. “For 30 years, the ‘Just Do It’ mantra has been a motivational call for athletes nationwide, across all sports, and all levels of play. To celebrate that rich diversity, the second film in the JDI series, ‘Dream Crazy,’ focuses on a collection of stories that represent athletes who are household names and those who should be. The common denominator: All leverage the power of sport to move the world forward.”  Nike goes on later to say the ad “provides encouragement to everyone who has crazy dreams and goals that may seem insurmountable.”

The main argument against opponents of Nike is that athletes with dreams are being celebrated. Kaepernick’s dreams aren’t mentioned, but he has achieved his dreams as well by bringing attention to police brutality and other issues regarding race.

This ad is not merely about Kaepernick, but about the influence of athletes worldwide.