New Nike campaign ad sparks controversy

Mark Suchy, Sports Editor

The final National Football League (NFL) preseason is typically a glorified practice and a relaxed atmosphere. The starters of the team sit on the side and enjoy watching their back-ups play. For example, New England Patriots starting quarterback, Tom Brady, has not logged a single play in preseason in the past two years according to
But the final preseason game of 2017 yielded an entirely different environment. On August 14, 2016 the San Francisco 49ers got ready to play in their final preseason game against the Houston Texans according to As usual the ceremonial National Anthem was played before kickoff. As fans eyes and television cameras scanned the standing players on the field, they noticed something a bit out of the ordinary.
49ers backup quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was not standing. Kaepernick was on a knee.
What followed was nothing short of a national uproar. Kaepernick said he was peacefully protesting police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. He was spotlighted by nearly every single newspaper including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. The United States was divided on the issue, (see Hereford Harbinger October 2017 issue). Even current President, Donald Trump, weighed in on the issue after several members from each NFL team followed Kaepernick’s lead.
“Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!” Trump said via Twitter.
Nearly two years removed from this and the debates are still firing on all cylinders. ESPN’s First Take continues to discuss the ramifications of this, most recently on September 12 when they talked about Kaepernick’s role in a new Nike ad campaign.
The powerhouse sports apparel company, Nike, introduced their 30 year ad campaign. This campaign was released September 6 and featured Colin Kaepernick as the leading spokesman/social figure.
The story generated instant buzz, was almost immediately trending on Twitter, and gave birth to instant knee-jerk reactions.
Andrew Beyrodt (’20) found out about the ad and decided to burn his Nike athletic shoes.
“It was disappointing to see Nike put an unpatriotic figure at the head of their new ads. I’ve always associated Nike as being the American company. It was disappointing to see them be un-American,” Beyrodt said.
Other students believe that Nike was doing the correct thing in standing with Kaepernick because of his beliefs.
“It was really cool to see Nike stand with Colin Kaepernick during such a tumultuous time,” Ethan Morgan (’22) said.
Morgan has always been a big supporter of Nike and loves their shoes.
Others have not been swayed by the ad at all.
“I usually just buy which ever clothing is the cheapest. If that is Nike then I am buying Nike,” Economics teacher, Ed Martin said. “The ad certainly generated publicity, and any publicity is good publicity. Especially for a company as big as Nike”.
Although the ad created instant social repercussions it is, as Martin said, still a business decision by the corporate side of Nike. According to, Nike’s stock dropped instantly after the ad was released. Despite the initial decline, Nike stock has climbed 5% and has closed at an all-time high for the sixth straight day, as of September 21.