BOSTON (CBS) – The selection of former NFL player Colin Kaepernick as Nike’s new spokesperson has some praising the athletic-wear company and others threatening to boycott it.
On Labor Day, Colin Kaepernick tweeted a picture of a new ad for the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. It shows a tight shot of the athlete’s face and reads “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Kaepernick, the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, garnered national fame and criticism by starting the trend to kneel down during the playing of the National Anthem at NFL games to protest police brutality and social injustice in the United States.
President Trump has criticized the kneeling protest on multiple occasions.
Kaepernick became a free agent in March 2017, and has yet to be picked up by another NFL team. He is suing the NFL owners, claiming collusion, but the NFL’s official apparel company — Nike — is embracing the controversial figure.
On Monday and Tuesday, the hashtag #BoycottNike was trending on social media, and posts and videos showed people burning Nike products in protest of the company’s support for Kaepernick.
The company’s stock also dipped. Multiple people on social media suggested deceased veteran Pat Tillman would be a better choice for an ad about “sacrifice.”
The NFL responded to the ad in a statement on Twitter, saying, “the social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Boston retail expert Ken Morris doesn’t believe the ad will have any negative effect on the athletic-wear giant. “[Nike is] picking a side, and I don’t think that’s going to negatively affect them in the long run,” Morris said.
He called the move by Nike a “calculated risk,” and says it’s one that will pay off because “even negative press is good press.” Morris said Nike’s target demographic is between the ages of 16 and 40, and that 60 percent of sales come from foreign buyers.
Multiple people shopping at Nike on Newbury Street and in Dorchester following the announcement said it either makes them support Nike more, or that the decision doesn’t affect their spending whatsoever. “Colin has the opportunity to believe what he wants,” said Michael Baron, who was visiting Boston from Nashville. “That’s what makes America great. So whether or not I agree with what they’re doing, I support it.”
“I think it’s a pretty inspirational ad,” added Newbury Street shopper Josh Wolff.
“Looks like I’ll be wearing a lot of Nike this week,” said Dorchester shopper Jordan Hall. “Go Nike.”
WBZ reached out to Nike Media Relations multiple times, but did not receive a response. The Kaepernick campaign has not been officially announced by the company. Rather, it has only been announced on Colin Kaepernick’s Twitter and via his attorney.