Nike’s shares on Wall Street dropped three per cent Tuesday after unveiling a new ad campaign featuring failed athlete turn activist Colin Kaepernick. Cries for a boycott spread across social media after the shoe company announced the anthem-kneeling, highly-paid NFL player as the spokesperson for its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Kaepernick inspired untold numbers of athletes from pros to impressionable children to disrespect the country by kneeling during the anthem as a demonstration of anti-Americanism.
So why did Nike do it? Perhaps he was selected due to his fashion sense, as Kaepernick has worn socks portraying police as pigs as well as shirts showing fealty to communist monster Fidel Castro. No word on if Nike will feature these in next year’s product line.
Kaepernick also used his fame to focus on activism rather than his craft, eventually costing him a spot on the NFL roster and a ratings freefall for the NFL as football fans wanted to see football on Sundays instead on being lectured to by a sub-par player who took a sociology class. Is Nike’s new message, Just Be Lazy and Piss Off Your Boss?
The neo-Marxist poster boy was widely defended by supporters of the Black Lives Matter anti-law enforcement movement as simply speaking for “anti-racism.” However Kaepernick, in his own words, has explained that he believes any allegiance to America is inherently racist.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in 2016 after being questioned about kneeling at a game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Using Kaepernick as the new social justice face of Nike prompted people to take to social media with the #NikeBoycott hashtag to show their boredom and disgust of using a man who has such resentment for the U.S. as the face of their company. Many also floated the theory that Kaepernick’s knee stunt was Nike’s idea from the beginning, and the whole snafu was orchestrated to lead up to this moment. Given Nike’s history, if true, that wouldn’t be so surprising.
In the ad campaign, the slogan “Believe in Something, even if it means Sacrificing everything” is imposed over a dramatic black and white imagine of Kaepernick’s Marxist face. It is certainly a new spin on a unemployed professional athlete. The ads resulted in the public unleashing parody imagines to knock Nike off its high horse, from images of The Avengers villain Thanos with the text, “believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing half of everything,” to, more poignantly, former NFLer Pat Tillman who left the NFL to serve in the military after 9/11, and was killed in Afghanistan. You know, an athlete who actually sacrificed everything.
The Portland, Ore.-based company’s sudden interest in humanitarian causes comes as a bit of a shock, as the overpriced sportswear manufacturer has famously made its products in overseas sweatshops, even using child labor in places like South Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan. Nike has distanced itself from those sins of the past saying it can’t control its subcontractors (like we haven’t heard that one before) and has made efforts to clean up decades of unethical business practices; at least in some factories.
Research revealed that workers in Nike factories have endured severe human rights abuses including forced overtime and restriction of water consumption. Physical and verbal abuse is rampant, particularly in its South Asian factories. As many as 50% of Nike’s factories even limit access to toilets during the workday, according to the findings in a 108 page report Nike published themselves. Maybe if Nike really cared about black lives and people of color, they’d relocate some of those manufacturing facilities to poor black neighbors in America, but something tells me that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Perhaps most unsettling, it was also reported some of the facilities participate in “human trafficking on a major scale.” In many cases the factories have been known to hold the worker’s passports so they can’t leave the country. The factories also stuff their workers into overcrowded, filthy housing they provide while garnishing wages at will. Nike is also a major tax dodger, as the recent Panama Papers revealed. The company shifted billions of dollars from Europe to Bermuda to avoid paying taxes.
Some sources have claimed that spokespeople, like Michael Jordan, made more in one year from Nike than all the workers making his shoes combined. With money like that, I doubt we will see Kaepernick take a knee for the workers making what he’s selling. Dollar, dollar bills, ya’ll!
The shady brand does not seem to be above masquerading as a compassionate leader of the down trodden and its sale department seems to be so out of touch they believe Kaepernick’s message speaks to the common man. Others think the move was intentional to capitalize on Kaepernick being such a polarizing figure. “Nike knew what it was doing when it tapped controversial Kaepernick,” an anonymous investment manager told Breitbart. “They decided to declare war on #MAGA and throw in with #Woke. Also, they knew even you guys would give them free publicity.”
It all looks very cynical, especially as recent reports showed Nike was panicking internally as Adidas has gained market share in recent years. What better way to endear yourself as a clothing company to millennials who don’t remember your sins of the past, than to slap Kaepernick’s face on something? Or, perhaps we’ve been looking at Kaepernick wrong this whole time. Just as he was a convenient tool for the gender studies crowd, who’ve never watched a football game in their lives, here he is being a useful idiot again, this time for a multinational, multibillion dollar company in need of a publicity injection. A tool, yes, but one who is laughing all the way to the bank.
Pawl Bazile is Patriotism Correspondent for DANGEROUS and Production Director for Proud Boy Magazine. He tweets at @PawlBazile.