Analysis Of Colin Kaepernick’s Advertisement With Nike

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Nike’s newest advertisement, featuring Colin Kaepernick caused an uproar recently. The black and white advertisement includes a close-up photo of ex-football player Colin Kaepernick’s face with the quote “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”. The influential multifaceted corporation, delved into the political crossfire by boldly stating their stance.

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Ultimately, advocacy from companies of pop culture topics and political issues enlighten the public and initiates to societal change. Kaepernick, ex 49ers player has been labeled a polarizing figure since 2016, when he denied to stand for the national anthem. The reason behind this protest was to draw attention to the racial injustice and police brutality issues. Following this incident, half of the public deemed Kaepernick’s actions a blatant show of disrespect. This resulted in teams no longer offering him contracts after the 2016 term. Nike selecting Kaepernick in one of their most controversial advertisements was a calculated move. Despite Nike’s usual vibrant and graphic ads, the featured ad with Colin Kaepernick is presented in an intense and stark black and white photograph. Nike took a minimalist approach with this advertisement by cutting out all of the frivolous and idiosyncratic distractions and essentially having the consumers focus on the message they were conveying. The usage of the colors drew attention to the defining component of the advertisement and it contrasts the typical belief that situations are not merely black and white. Nike seems to be communicating their knowledge of the political climate within our nation through this ad. With this simplicity Nike’s attempt to commodify the politics associated with Kaepernick through the advertisement seem to be working. When taking the first look at the ad, the audience is presented with a stoic Kaepernick. It is a simple and up-close face shot that alludes to various sports’ characteristics of dominance and strength. It displays the close ranged face shot which shows power and a sense of fearlessness. The way Kaepernick poses shows that situations must be approached with confidence and poise. The quote that is present says “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”. This quote demonstrates a strong message which plays into the commonly known belief that we should be willing to fight for what we truly believe in. The “everything” that is stated in the quote in his case is referring to his football career and essentially being blackballed by the NFL for his political affiliations. “Believe in something”, is referring to his unwavering advocacy to the Black Lives Matter movement even at a time when bubbling tensions are dividing the country.By merely showing Kaepernick’s face, the advertisement focuses on intent rather than physical ability. It differs from the typical Nike advertisement where this one does not show someone in physically demanding conditions. This ad in and of itself is a testament that societal problems are battles of the mind and, in this case, imaginary boundaries between races.

The quote is in reference to Colin’s lawsuit against the National Football League where Kaepernick made the argument that the racial injustices people of color face is of greater importance than Football, a pastime sport. The simplicity of the advertisement helps the viewers’ focus on Kaepernick’s backstory with his career and his support to the BLM. Nike’s failure to display any merchandise further removes their personal agenda being the conveil of support for minorities and the betterment of. Instead, the true product is the support of culturally relevant issues.

The ad ends with the traditional Nike logo and the saying “Just do it”. This finishing touch not only acts as Nike’s signature but as a bold statement in agreement with the quote. They essentially are placing their mark of approval on the Black Lives Matter movement, the message of the quote, and supporting Colin’s previous actions. Nike is aligning their motto with making risky moves for the betterment of society. Nike uses a saying that focuses on moral and societal responsibility. In using Kaepernick as their medium, they provided truth, experience, and a real life instance. The advertisement is an argument, a promise, and an explanation. An argument which acts as a call to action of the public to stand by their beliefs and fight for them with their entire being. A promise to advocate for the true obstacles which our society faces today even at the endangerment of their own state of being. An explanation for the unjust response the NFL had against Colin’s support of a greater movement and the previous wrongdoings of American society which is now our responsibility to correct.

Colin’s facial expression and overall appearance in the photo have distinct key features which emphasize the message upon deeper analysis. Colin was allowed to keep his natural hair. This is a very powerful choice specifically due to the immense amount of history with black hairstyles. For years, natural hair was viewed as unprofessional. Kaepernick’s usual style was a braided and pulled back but in this photograph he can be seen with unbridled curls. This display of natural hair further develops the idea of being proud of individuals’ history and beliefs. The picture is free of any significant editing so it is raw and pure in nature. The issue at hand is one of basic rights. Showcasing an untouched picture gives power to the message because the audience appreciates honesty and logic. Consumers support companies whose products offer a benefit to their lives. Nike is making an immense leap forward by straying from their products and moving towards a message that directly applies to consumers lives regardless of its direct or indirect relationship to their service. Consumers have begun showing their appreciation towards nike by arguing in favor of their move to endorse Colin Kaepernick. Nike is creating a new era in which companies not only create products to better lives but take action to improve cultural life through advocacy. There seems to be a cultural discord among the advertisement and its meaning. Viewing the advertisement unknowingly, its innocent and has a valid and powerful message. Nike, being a massive corporation, connects millions of people. For those less informed viewers, the simple advertisement gets viewers to ask questions because it does not fit the mold of your day to day ad. This enticing nature brings newcomers into the conversation and gives a voice where they may not have been one before. The advertisement carries a lot of weight especially in the political aspect because of the severity of the Black Lives Movement amongst certain groups. Nike received a myriad of back lash and loss of stocks by headlining and endorsing such a controversial man, therefore supporting this movement and what it stands for. In retrospect, they also gained a lot of support from other organizations and individuals which ultimately has led to endorsements. Nike partnering with Kaepernick made a definite impact in today’s society.

Following the contentious advertisement a series of protests began to boycott the company due to the face being Kaepernick. Several people were depicted on social media burning or vandalizing their Nike merchandise all in the name of condemning Kaepernick. Although the ex 49ers main mission is to bring awareness to the injustices people of color face, the opposing public is preoccupied with his disrespect towards the flag and the country. Some people believe that companies should not have the right to speak on behalf of social issues, rather remain neutral and provide their product. The opposing public believe that companies with this magnitude of influence do not have the right to impose beliefs on others. This campaign has gone as far as to provoke the President of the United States to compose a tweet stating his intense dissatisfaction of the ad. With all of the commotion the advertisement is causing, Nike ultimately made a money move. The multibillion-dollar company will be making a profit off of the social justice issue regardless of hate or support. Opposers to the advertisement have unfounded hatred to the movement. They fail to take into consideration Nike’s affiliations with other companies. In blatantly, destroying already purchased products as a form of revolt they continue to support the company through their subsidiaries like converse and teams like Penn State, Ohio State, alongside the myriad of colleges under Nike’s wing. They fail to have a crystalized conception of the vitality of the issues. Despite all of the hate and refutation, the critics are ensuring lining the pockets of Nike with their performative boycott.

While Colin Kaepernick’s ubiquitous advertisement with Nike broke the internet, its message is more than meets the eye. With the choices of color, simplicity, the quote, representative, and the political aspect this advertisement is full of messages. No matter whether the response to the ad was positive or negative, it proves that it is important for companies to be advocates for social issues. Nike’s recent advertisement was more than marketing for their products but the selling of a movement towards a better tomorrow. In the end, it either enraged the public or illuminated a promise of innovation within brands and athletes.

03 December 2019

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