Sports: “Just Do It” Campaign a Movement

by Nikolas Molina and Elliston Ospina

Nike’s 30th anniversary of the ‘Just Do it’ campaign sparked a lot of controversy concerning their newest poster boy, Colin Kaepernick, who himself is a flashpoint of political division in an America more polarized than ever.

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,”

This quote was used for their new advertisement with a picture of Colin Kaepernick’s face in the background. People are complaining that he has not sacrificed anything compared to other football players–players like Pat Tillman, who left the NFL to sacrifice his life in the U.S. armed forces.

On the other hand, others support Nike in their controversial campaign.

Nike, who has long been the subject of ethical criticism for their outsourcing strategy, is finally throwing their hat in the the ring of social justice, showing their point of view on the the racial injustices in the United States.

Where most companies would’ve tended to stay away from politics and race relations, Nike showed their firm stance on the subject. 

Kaepernick tweeted the full ad on wednesday. The video is a compilation of athletes who have to overcome obstacles to become the best in their sport. Towards the end of the video it shows Kaepernick in the middle of a city and he states, “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

After the ad was released people immediately posted pictures and videos of Nike products being burned, Nike’s logo being cut out and people stating they will no longer be purchasing products from Nike and will take their commitment from Nike to other companies such as Adidas, Reebok, and Converse (even though Nike owns converse).

After these pictures and videos were released people started comparing Kaepernick to other athletes and posting memes about this ad, with many on social media saying, “Just Don’t” 

Kaepernick set in motion his controversial  political legacy with kneeling during the national anthem. People were outraged arguing that he is disrespecting our fallen soldiers. He compared his kneeling to those soldiers kneeling by graves of fallen comrades. Except, he’s kneeling for those victims of social injustice.

People argue that Colin is not fit to be the face of Nike, saying he did not do anything compared to the actions of someone like Pat Tillman, a former safety for the Arizona Cardinals who left the league to join the forces and lost his life in a friendly fire incident. People are saying all he did was protest police-brutality by kneeling.

On the other hand, there are those who are frustrated by all the publicity something like this is getting. Something that was a real eye opener was a tweet by an unknown account saying, “Imagine a country where a shoe ad is more controversial than a school shooting”

The American people care more about materialistic issues caused by an ad campaign by greedy shoe company than they do about the issues that corporation’s ad claims to reflect. This shows how distorted our societal views are these days. People give more time to something so minute compared to real world problems.

When the ad came out people expected the stock and the sales to plummet. But Nike surprised everyone when their sales increased by a whopping 31%. People all over social media recorded videos of Nike products burning, getting thrown away, and hashtagging #BoycottNike all over social media. All of the actions trying to protest Nikes new campaign were pointless, as they did not affect Nike’s income negatively whatsoever.

Nike has made a ton of social statements through their ‘Just Do It’ campaign, beginning  in 1988 when they addressed ageism featuring 80-year-old Walter Stack. Stack was a cross country runner who ran more than 62,000 miles over his life. Another a year later, the company advocated for people with disabilities starring Paralympian Craig Blanchette.

More famously, in 1993, an ad with Charles Barkley sparked a conversation about whether celebrities and professional athletes should be held to higher standards.

“I’m not paid to be a role model. I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court,” stated Barkley.

In 1995 a “Just Do It” ad featured openly gay, HIV-positive runner Ric Munoz. AIDS activists applauded Nike for the campaign.

Nike tackled gender issues with its “If You Let Me Play” ad, which addressed the issue of organized sports for girls. The ad featured young girls quoting statistics about how sports can improve their lives.

In 2007, Nike featured Matt Scott of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in a “Just Do It” ad.

Nike touched on gender issues again in 2012 with its “Voices” ad, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

Nike’s 2017 “Equality” campaign featured black athletes like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Gabby Douglas, and Kevin Durant, along with actor Michael B. Jordan talking of the parallels between equality in sports and equality in the broader world.

Nike also released the “What Will They Say About You?” ad in 2017, which featured five Middle Eastern women pushing social norms to succeed in sports like boxing and skateboarding.

In short, Nike has had a history of politically conscious ads, and the track record of these ads, regardless of Nike’s other business practices, proves they’ve come out on the right side of history time and time again. Will the same be true of Kaepernick?

People should worry less about answering that question and more about the pressing national issues at hand, which continue to breed deep-seated division.

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