Nike has unveiled a new “Just Do It” advertising campaign that features Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who knelt during the national anthem to protest oppression of people of color.

It’s a controversial move by Nike, to say the least, but a smart one.

A recent poll by Morning Consult shows that after the release of the campaign, about 24 percent of respondents who consider themselves Nike customers do not view the company favorably. That figure was 9 percent before the campaign.

So, why would Nike include such a divisive figure?

According to TMZ, Nike market research shows that about 18 percent of Nike customers identify as African American, 19 percent are Hispanic and 5 percent are Asian. All those percentages are higher than those groups are represented in this country. About 67 percent of Nike customers identify as white, and Nike believes a large majority of younger white buyers support Kaepernick in general. (As an aside, those figures don’t add up to 100 because people identify as more than one race.)

So, wouldn’t it be smart to target an advertising campaign at a demographic that might be receptive to your product to begin with? Everything isn’t supposed to be for everybody, and why should Nike care about folks who hate Kaepernick but weren’t going to buy the company’s merchandise anyway?

Besides, think back to one of those figures we covered in a previous paragraph — 9 percent view the company unfavorably but still buy Nike products. That’s about 1 out of 10 people who confirmed they’re Nike customers but don’t like the company. According to a Nike news release, the company’s 2017 earnings were $34.4 billion. If everything is equal, they’re getting about $3.4 billion from people who say they don’t like them.

Sure, some folks will swear off Nike in the wake of the Kaepernick ads, but I’m betting it won’t be as many as the new customers the company gains.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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