"Dream Crazy": Nike and Colin Kaepernick Campaign Controversy

I’m sure you have heard of the crazy controversy from the Nike advertisement released Wednesday morning featuring unsigned quarterback and face of the movement of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem, Colin Kaepernick.

If you haven’t heard about this yet, that’s okay. Keep reading to see a full breakdown of the chaotic whirlwind that unleashed Wednesday morning.

Amid an uneasy political climate sparked through intense racial tensions and fights for equal rights, Nike and Colin Kaepernick took an important, and powerful stand. But, the question remains: How will this impact Nike as a whole?

Let’s start out talking about Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick played football at the University of Nevada, Reno before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. Under head coach Jim Harbaugh, Kaepernick led his team to a Super Bowl in under two years. This drew a lot of attention to the young quarterback's challenge, especially after the controversy of trading ex-quarterback, Alex Smith.


But, in 2016, Kaepernick called attention to himself in a much different way. In August of that year, a reporter captured Kaepernick sitting on the bench while his teammates stood for the National Anthem. This is when he took an official stand as he told reporters after the game, “It is to protest the injustices that are happening in America, the oppression that is happening in America,” (abc7news.com).

Despite huge controversy and massive social media arguments, Kaepernick continued his protest, but after speaking with Army Vet Nate Boyer, he began to kneel out of respective to the military and armed forces. At this point in early September, a fellow teammate (Eric Reid) joined him in protest. This was also when the world knew Kaepernick really meant business: he pledged $1 million dollars to community and social justice groups throughout the country. Just about a week later, other NFL players on various teams also began kneeling for the National Anthem, and a movement was born.

Flash forward to January 2017. We did not know it, but this game would be Kaepernick’s last as a football player. It wasn’t until March that he opted out of his contract with San Francisco. Despite being a free agent, Kaepernick was not resigned for the next season. Although Kaepernick was no longer physically on the field, his fight was carried out by other NFL players like Marshawn Lynch and even other professional sporting teams like the Golden State Warriors and many NBA owners.Kaepernick also filed a suit against the NFL saying the owners colluded to keep him from getting resigned for this season. This case is still being sorted out, but this adds a lot of strain to the Nike controversy breaking out.

Throughout the remainder of 2017, Kaepernick received several awards and recognition for his actions including being named “Citizen of the Year” by GQ magazine and the Courageous Advocate Award from the ACLU.

Okay, now that you’re caught up with Kaepernick, we can start talking about the volcano that erupted when Nike aired “Dream Crazy” on YouTube featuring athletes like Colin Kaepernick, Lebron James, Serena Williams and a wide array of other athletes. Watch the video here.

The video came shortly after Nike announced Kaepernick would be the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. And before moving forward, let us recall that Nike and the NFL signed a deal in March of 2017 to give Nike the rights to produce the uniforms for eight years. So, how did the world respond? Keep reading.

Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, made a statement to Deadline saying, "The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities.” Moore then continued, “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”

While many celebrities like Alicia Keys along with younger milennials have glorified the ad, other people have not been as pleased with the video. People began sharing pictures of burning shoes or clothing with the hashtags #BurnYourNikes and #NikeBoycott while Nike shares fell as Wall Street reacted to the news. And yes, you guessed it, President Trump tweeted his own response as well.

But, this controversy is also bringing a lot of positives for Nike, and many professionals believe the brand will ultimately benefit from this advertising move. According to Apex Marketing, Nike’s brand exposure on TV, radio, online and social media since the announcement of the campaign is worth $163.5 million.

I encourage you to look into the news and form your own opinion on both Nike and Colin Kaepernick, but I would also like to take this time to share my opinions on the entire situation.First of all, the advertisement made me cry. As an ex-athlete and someone whose heart is still very attached to sports, this video hit so many emotional buttons inside, and I couldn’t help but tear up. Secondly, it was an incredible advertisement all around. It was inspiring and tear-jerking, while still being incredibly well made in classic Nike fashion. It was everything and more we expect from a Nike advertisement.

Finally, this advertisement made me respect both Nike and Colin Kaepernick a significant amount more. I cannot pinpoint exactly why I feel so strongly about this campaign, but it really strikes something deep inside of me. Despite his insurmountable love for the game of football, Colin Kaepernick sacrificed everything - his career, reputation, etc- for a cause he believes in fighting for. But more than that, this is a huge issue in America, and something that needs to be taken care of. I have insane amounts of respect for athletes and celebrities that use their fame to better the world, and Colin Kaepernick is doing that inspirationally.

So, this is also a shout out to you Nike, and to you Colin Kaepernick. I tip my hat to you, and I look forward to seeing how Nike continues to positively change the world. 

Thank you for reading,