American sportswear brand Nike has taken sides on the race-based debate that has plagued the American football league by featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as one of its faces of its new “Just Do It” campaign.
30-year-old Kaepernick has been sponsored by Nike since 2011 and he has been without a National Football League (NFL) team since 2016 after he started kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness about police brutality against blacks and other racial injustices. This was regarded as disrespect by conservatives including the president Donald Trump.
Nike’s campaign photo which is part of the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of its iconic “Just Do It” slogan was first tweeted by Kaepernick on Monday and it has since gone viral and divided opinions as Nike shares dip in the midst of a boycott.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
The campaign photo with Kaepernick had his face in black and white and a caption that reads, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This has been described as a marketing suicide by analysts who believe the negative reactions will affect Nike’s sales.
Meanwhile, supporters of the campaign including athletes who have been featured like tennis star Serena Williams, NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and amputee linebacker for Seattle Seahawks, Shaquem Griffin, have sided with Kaepernick.
While the politics is concentrated in the United States, the continent of Africa has sportswear brands like Nike but can’t compete due to the monopoly and power that the non-African brands wield.
The Nike-sponsored Nigerian football jersey for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was the most-purchased in the world while African brands are struggling.
Face2Face Africa puts the spotlight on these African brands that have potential and can be the next big thing in the sportswear business.