By Skylar Letteer
Nike released their first Just Do It campaign on Wednesday, September 5th starring former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick. The premise of the ad was to celebrate victories and overcoming obstacles, debuting Kaepernick during the end frame with the slogan “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Social media debates flooded timelines and news articles with accusations against Nike, believing the slogan was in support of Kaepernick’s controversial political protest.
On August 14, 2016, Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem with the intentions of shedding light upon the conversation of police brutality. With the subject being heavily disputed, the protest gained mass amounts of attention worldwide. Though chaos followed the incident, arguments fell into the shadows within a few months time. As frustrations simmered down, Nike lit the match and restarted the fire that was originally against Kaepernick. Once Nike published the ad, suppressed anger towards Kaepernick resurfaced and caused a divide in opinions. Both perspectives had extreme reactions when defending their viewpoint, making the subject matter much greater than before. One outlook views the protest as freedom of speech and defends Kaepernick’s decision, while the opposing found it to be disrespectful. The individuals that took the act offensively have been responding with boycotts, including destroying purchased Nike gear. From minor damages such as cutting out the symbol in purchased socks - to the severe response of burning expensive gear. College football teams have stripped their sponsorship with the brand in order to express their opinion. Even though Nike has received mass amounts of backlash, their sales have increased 21%. Despite differing opinions, each person is entitled to their beliefs and allowed to express their agreement or disagreement. Whether you are for the ad or against it, one belief we all share is the belief in the freedom of speech.