Just do it

Sonja Karp

Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere, you are fully aware of the new controversial ad campaign Nike released last Monday in celebration of the 30th anniversary of “Just Do it.” 

When the print ad went public featuring a close-up of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with the slogan “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” social media blew up with people being outraged over their choice of a spokesperson.

I was right with those who were more than disappointed with Nike for making Kaepernick the face of this campaign given he sacrificed nothing by starting a movement that insulted a nation. 

In my opinion, he was a has-been, benched quarterback who was attempting to make himself relevant as he knelt for the National Anthem in protest of police brutality against African-Americans. 

I am irritated that he was who they went with instead of other NFL players who embodied that slogan much more eloquently — like Pat Tillman, who gave up his NFL career and ultimately his life for his country, or Tim Tebow who sacrificed his career by also taking a knee, but his was in prayer. 

I may even be more irritated that Nike has once again made Kaepernick relevant.

To be clear, Nike has used its ads to make social statements dating back to the first “Just Do It” campaign back in 1988 when they addressed ageism by featuring an 80-year-old man who had run about 62,000 miles in his lifetime.

Other socially significant campaigns they have run include twice advocating for people with disabilities, questioning whether celebrities and professional athletes should be held to higher standards, featuring openly gay athletes, drawing attention to gender issues more than once, examining equality for minorities and featuring Middle Eastern women pushing social norms.

In all of these I have had nothing but respect for the company, and I do understand the point of this year’s campaign. Also, I have to say that after looking more into it, I so like the message Nike is sending. 

The first commercial released consists of Kaepernick doing a voice-over as athletes fight through adversity to reach their dream. 

He talks of never letting someone calling a dream crazy stop you from giving everything you have to achieve it. 

He encourages individuality, and to realize there is more to life than simply playing the game. 

Serena Williams, who rose to greatness despite growing up in Compton, is featured as an example of overcoming adversity. 

The ad closes with him saying “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

The message is inspiring if one can get past the person who is delivering it.

I can say that I’m pretty sure I will never like the spokesperson, but I can admit that I do like what Nike is saying through their campaign.

And I also have to say that from a business perspective, whomever suggested Kaepernick was brilliant. After the blowup following the release of the print ad, Nike’s sales have increased 31 percent despite the push to boycott the company.


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