Nike isn’t going anywhere. No boycott is going to send this megalithic piece of the world culture into the abyss, no matter how abhorrent the shoemaker acts. It’s simple not economically feasible.
Not to mention the fact that Nike is very literally built for this sort of thing. They are cheering in their offices today, despite their stock tanking and Twitter feeds virtually engulfed in the flames of symbolically incinerated cross trainers.
This is precisely what Nike wants, and has always wanted: Controversy. To think that they are afraid of a boycott is a fool’s errand, and to promote one just gives them the power right back, as they spin this criticism into some sort of street cred scheme.
So, instead of lambasting the sweat-shop innovators for what they are, (culturally manipulative egotists who very literally feed their children with money they extorted from us through advertising guilt), we can take this phony controversy and spin it into two powerful, teachable moments.
Lesson #1: The more attention to you give Nike, the more success they will believe they’ve had.
In 10 years, some marketing intern will pull the social media data for this week, see the big spike in activity, and equate that with success. Then, when it comes time to get their name back in the news, Nike will trot out some similar liberal antihero and begin the whole process again. You’re feeding this. So stop.
Lesson #2: There are actual heroes who have played in the NFL, and for whom the advertising slogans used by Nike in this particular campaign would better fit than Colin Kaepernick.
For instance, Pat Tillman.
Some critics of Nike’s ad starring Colin Kaepernick are arguing that a different former NFL player should be featured in the company’s new “Just Do It” ad.
On Monday, Kaepernick shared an image of his face on Twitter, with the words: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The image was retweeted by Nike, reportedly kicking off a new multi-year deal between the former NFL player and the sportswear company.
The Nike ad immediately sparked controversy, with many critics rallying around a different former NFL player: Pat Tillman. Tillman died by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004, two years after he left the NFL to enlist in the military.
Among the people tweeting about Tillman was Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, who posted a photo of the former NFL player in Arizona Cardinals gear, with the caption: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Some even went so far as to superimpose the image themselves, making for a startlingly poignant graphic.
— PaPaReaves (@pa_reaves) September 4, 2018
And yes, I understand that I am feeding into the Nike hysteria just a bit here, but for good reason; Pat Tillman was, and will forever be, a true American hero. If Nike will have any affect on my day, I will use that to spread a message of nobility and patriotism, as opposed to giving the sneaker sultans what it is that they truly thrive on – controversy.