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Monday, September 10, 2018

Believe in Something. Even if it Means Sacrificing Nike.

A significant shock rattled the advertising world this past week. The company with the famous “swoosh” logo branded on a myriad of sports products put a controversial face on its latest ad campaign. Colin Kaepernick.

The message being delivered by the unemployed NFL quarterback encourages his brand of protest. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Of course, Colin really doesn’t want to sacrifice everything. He’d love to be back hurling footballs at wide receivers and tight ends. Also, likely taking his famous knee before the game during the National Anthem.

Politics and business have not mixed well for the NFL. Mr. Kaepernick has found the way to drive a wedge between fans and one of the most popular sporting events in America. In some communities, love of country and love of football go hand in hand. Colin has fostered a kind of fan divorce in this game.

The National Anthem controversy has become so divisive, ESPN decided NOT to even show anthem performances before Monday night NFL games it covers. The National Football League itself has had a terrible time locking in on a policy that purportedly would respect the players' rights and fans' loyalties to our nation. What a mess!

So Nike enters the fray by throwing its corporate weight of support behind Kaepernick. And they did it in a somewhat “in your face” style by airing the first of the “Just Do It” ads that featured Kaepernick in the first commercial break of the third quarter last Thursday night. That was the season opening NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. The ad ran two minutes.

The two minute commercial featured superstar athletes LeBron James, Serena Williams, and others. Content dealt with the controversy of NFL players protesting racial inequality, police brutality, and other issues by demonstrating during the national anthem. It’s part of the Nike “Dream Crazy” campaign.

The narrator, Colin Kaepernick, appears about half way through the ad. CBS News reported, “As a camera pans to reveal Kaepernick's face, a reflection of a United States flag is reflected on the facade of a building behind him.” And it ends with him saying, "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Touching. But to many, insulting.

A report from Morning Consult reports some interesting research findings. Before the announcement from Nike, the company had a net +69 favorable impression among consumers. That declined to a +35 favorable. Even in key demographics of younger generations, Nike users and African Americans, that rating declined. And how about this: before the announcement, 49 percent of Americans said they were absolutely or very likely to buy Nike products. That dropped to 39 percent now.

So how does Nike benefit? Bloomberg reported that according to the Apex Marketing Group, Nike generated $43 million in media exposure in the first 24 hours after the ad announcement was made. So some in the media industry believe the risk is worth it. And a company the size of Nike can afford to take that risk.

So do we applaud this effort by Nike…or not? I offer this assessment from Jim Geraghty’s opinion piece in the National Review:

“If you ever wondered what it would take to get the whole Social Justice Warrior crowd to loudly support a multinational corporation with nearly $35 billion in revenue in 2017; that pays its assembly line workers about 2.5 percent of production costs; that faces accusations that its factories bar independent inspections of working conditions; whose workers frequently faint from heat and exhaustion, and suffer wage theft, forced overtime, restrictions on their use of toilets, exposure to toxic solvents, and padlocked exit doors . . . well, apparently Colin Kaepernick is all that it takes.”

Note that revolutionaries can be positive. I follow one. His name is Jesus. He dealt with social justice by way of action. Caring for the poor. Healing the sick. Even raising the dead. Offering hope. Showing true sacrifice. I like His game plan better.

Instead of simply believing in something, pursue believing in someone. Discover the real Jesus. Then join me in taking a knee.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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