Nike reputation halves overnight over Kaepernick advertisement

Following the ad campaign, Nike’s favorability rating dropped from 69% to 35%, practically halving overnight.


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A recent ad campaign featuring the controversial, former middle-of-the-road quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has led to a major decline in Nike’s favorability ratings. 

While Nike sales experienced a momentary boost to 31% from the Labor Day Sunday through Tuesday, compared to a 17% boost the same time in 2017, Nike’s favorability rating tells a very different story, especially in the long-term.

Following the ad campaign, Nike’s favorability rating dropped from 69% to 35%, practically halving overnight. 

Among age groups, Baby Boomers showed the most disdain towards the campaign, with ratings dropping from 68% to 20%, while Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z ratings dropped from 75% to 39%, 64% to 52%, and 81% to 51% respectively.

Even among African-Americans, the demographic that Nike was appealing to, Nike’s favorability has dropped from 82% to 74%.

The starkest drop, however, comes along political lines, with Republican consumers’ favorability rating dropping from 75% to less than 0. You know all those red-blooded middle-Americans who like to play football throughout the Spring to Fall months? It’s looking like they’ll be buying Adidas this year. 

Even if you agree with Kaepernick’s message, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there are some things that consumers simply do not want politicized – their shoes being one them. 

The campaign slogan reads “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”, obviously referencing Kaepernick’s decision to protest the American national anthem and flag by kneeling and his subsequent departure from the NFL.

A rather ironic slogan given Kaepernick’s unremarkable track record as a professional football player, rather than political activist – his departure had as much to do with that as his polarization of fans.

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that, from a financial perspective, Kaepernick hadn’t sacrificed anything. Nike contracts are renowned for being lucrative, with tennis player Serena Williams making 50 million for a 5-year contract signed in 2003, and New York Giants wide-receiver Odell Beckham Jr. recently signing a 5-million-a-year contract with the sports company.

In today’s climate of over-politicization, it pays to be controversial. However, as we’ve seen from the decline of NFL ticket sales due to Kaepernick’s controversy, this paradigm may be changing. Preaching at your customers may not be the road to go down anymore.


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Dylan Gibbons

Dylan is a student in his senior year at Ryerson University, double majoring in Philosophy and English with aspirations to study Global Affairs at the graduate level. During his time at Ryerson, Dylan has occupied various director roles and assisted in both event planning and business correspondence. His primary political interests are in Canadian public policy, foreign relations, and emerging technology.
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