Nike saw its shares plunge more than 2 percent in early trading Tuesday, following news that the company was making former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a face of its “Just Do It” ad campaign.
Nike (NKE.N) stock dropped 2.7 percent today, amid calls on social media for a boycott of the sportswear giant, according to Reuters.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
Upon hearing the news, scores of Nike customers took to Twitter to express their disgust, some even taking the extreme step of burning their Nike sneakers.
Kaepernick began the practice of kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest perceived police brutality against blacks. Since then, many other NFL players have joined the controversial protest, angering fans and most notably President Trump.
It remains to be seen whether Nike’s decision to make Kaepernick its poster boy will hurt the company in the long run, but at the very least, it is a risky move.
Fox Business’ Dagen McDowell explained why it might be a smart move for Nike to use such a polarizing figure, calling it “corporate virtue-signalling.”
“It is a business calculation that the Kaepernick jersey even after he stopped playing in the NFL has still been a good if not best-selling jersey for Nike,” she explained, adding that “because nearly a dozen people have left Nike because of complaints about inappropriate workplace behavior that this is a way for them to draw attention away from that and to the new spokesman of their campaign.”
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee begged to differ, saying that using such a divisive figure was “a way to wave the middle finger to half the American voters and half the American public.”
Huckabee added: “I can’t imagine how Nike thinks this is a brilliant move for them. Everyone’s talking about them, so if maybe that’s their goal — they’ve got it. But not everybody’s talking very favorably.”
Main Street Pilot CEO Col. Brian Searcy (Ret.) told Fox Business’ Charles Payne that Nike’s decision to use Kaepernick is just causing more divisiveness in the country.
“Twitter exploded, we’ve seen shoes being burned, socks being cut, and my concern as a veteran, somebody that’s served and defended this country, who’s a full and fervent supporter of law enforcement and EMS and all the firemen and women that are out there is that we’re not showing the true respect that they need and we’re just contributing to the divisiveness in this country,” he said.