Since announcing the inspiring ‘Take a Knee’ figurehead Colin Kaepernick as the face of their 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign, Nike has copped a mix of extreme praise and extremely laughable conservative rage.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
Well, if you thought that Nike’s Colin Kaepernick poster was powerful, the full video ad will ruin you.
They released the two minute campaign on Twitter today and it features an incredible line-up of diverse, iconic athletes who have overcome adversity and made their ‘crazy’ dreams a reality.
— Nike (@Nike) September 5, 2018
The former quarterback is infamously involved in a legal battle with the NFL over the alleged consequences he has faced for protesting police brutality and racial inequality during the national anthem.
So it’s pertinent that Nike is airing the commercial during the NFL season opener on the NBC on Thursday. It’s a power move, and a damn good one.
BREAKING: Nike doubling down on Colin Kaepernick. Scheduled to air new “Just Do It” ad on tomorrow night’s NFL season opener, voiced by Kaepernick and revealed as him at end, starring a host of athletes including @OBJ_3, @serenawilliams & others. Coverage on @OTLonESPN now.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 5, 2018
Of course, Nike has received some criticism by people who agree with Nike’s message but question the authenticity and motive.
There will always be criticism when a company or individual profits off of publicising social justice issues. But the same people will be quick to criticise a company or individual who has the platform and resources to publicise social justice issues, but does not use it.
For example, Beyoncé cops flack for folding feminism into her branding while that branding contributes to the multi-million dollar success of her career. But Taylor Swift is condemned for not using her sway and reach to campaign for a certain political view.
It’s a bit damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
We are living in a world where there is no contribution to progressive discourse that won’t be faulted by someone, somewhere.
And yes criticism is important. In Nike’s case, the criticism of labour rights issues is something that they – along with most global companies – still need to face up to. But that does not mean that they can not and should not contribute at all.
This Colin Kaepernic ad is great. Its heroes are diverse, inspiring, and entirely from groups that face adversity and oppression.
If Nike spends its money and uses its platform so that people, and children especially, can see this content, then that is something to celebrate. Because this is a powerful and necessary message.
There are so many golden moments in the ad, from LeBron James opening a public school and becoming “bigger than basketball”, to Alphonso Davies’ story of coming from a refugee camp in Ghana to playing for Canada’s national soccer team at the age of 16.
But my absolute favourite part is the closing footage of young Serena Williams growing up to become World Champion Serena Williams. Kaepernick narrates,
“And if you’re a girl from Compton, don’t just become a tennis player. become the greatest athlete ever.”
If a company with the international influence and reach of Nike platforming the heroism of people like Serena Williams and Colin Kaepernick is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.