Nike started the conversation. How will the NFL respond?
Nike’s marketing has historically started conversations about tough subjects from ageism to Title IX and HIV. And its 30th-anniversary celebration of its “Just do it” tagline doesn’t stray from that tradition. The brand’s black-and-white, close-up photo of football player Colin Kaepernick, with the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” and the two-minute spot that ran during the first game of the NFL season ignited a social media firestorm.
In featuring Kaepernick, one of the most influential—and contentious— sports figures today, particularly with copy that shows a definitive display of support for him, Nike puts itself at odds with the NFL , an organization it has a partnership with until 2028. And to add fuel to the fire, Nike didn’t give the NFL a heads up about the Kaepernick ad, according to ESPN.
“Nike has a long-standing relationship with the NFL and works extensively with the league on all campaigns that use current NFL players and its marks,” said Sandra Carreon John, a spokesperson for Nike. “Colin is not currently employed by an NFL team and has no contractual obligation to the NFL or its marks.”
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