Burn your shoes, Nike does not care

People have burned flags. Burned books. Burned bras. And now they’re burning shoes and sweatpants. But how inflammatory is all of this protest, really? There is still an American flag in my front yard, I am almost done with the third Game of Thrones book, I still wear a bra and I still wear my Nikes.


Shortly after Nike released its Colin Kaepernick ad, the public responded with vigor –– I should say, those who disagreed responded. Videos of ripped socks and burning shoes appeared all over Facebook and other forms of social media, accompanied by angry captions citing their disappointment in the company and the National Football League. One man tweeted his distress over having to choose his country over his favorite sport and brand. As if that was the issue.


What all of these protestors failed to notice, however, is that in every video and image they posted, they were also spreading that famous Nike swoosh and tagline “Just Do It.” Nike had thousands of its products plastered across the internet in a firestorm of protest — all for free.

This type of exposure was better than what Nike could have ever hoped for –– or maybe it was just what they intended.


Let’s face it, marketers are in their prime right now. With such a critical public audience inciting a response is simple and large corporations –– among others –– are capitalizing on that.


Nike fully understood the risk of putting out such a controversial ad, one that implies that Kaepernick is a hero, calling his subsequent trials a sacrifice.


They studied the balance of their audience beforehand and they made the right call. All of those incensed burners hoping to spread their cause, calling others to boycott created as much noise as was likely anticipated –– but they forgot something: bad press is still press. On that point, rather than loudly disputing those against the ad, consumers did what they do best, they consumed. Since the add debuted, Nike has seen a 61 percent increase in sold out items, and its stocks have risen 0.35 percent. Nike played a complicated –– however, beneficial –– game with this campaign.


Kaepernick’s protests stirred responses from politicians, veterans, sports fans and even those who didn’t previously have a finger in any of those pies. By wading into the fray, they were able to reach a wider audience and do what they ultimately set out to do –– make more money.