…if Nike hadn’t been so stupid in choosing Kaepernick to be its pitchman for it.
Here’s the spot itself. It’s OK, you can watch it. Your head won’t explode.
This would actually be a great spot if they had somebody who legitimately personified its message doing the voiceover. Seriously. The message, to dream big and work bigger to achieve that which is thought unattainable, is a good one for a company pushing athletic gear. If you’re playing a sport you should set the bar higher than anybody thinks is possible. And the people featured in the spot are good examples of the achievers embodying the message.
But Colin Kaepernick is exactly the opposite of the message.
Kaepernick’s dreams, which he chose to pursue rather than focusing on becoming a great NFL quarterback, were too small for his station. He was a Super Bowl quarterback, or at least an NFL quarterback who played in a Super Bowl, and wasn’t completely out of place in the 49ers’ run to that NFC championship, who let his skills atrophy to nothing for lack of focus so that now he’s just another hustler looking for a sellout check. He doesn’t fit with any of the people the spot profiles who do fit that message. None of them destroyed their locker rooms with bullshit political activism and set their teammates at odds with their actions. None of them did double-figure damage to the TV ratings of the league they play in.
Kaepernick did that.
Nike’s decision to turn Kaepernick, the National Anthem-defiling, skills-atrophying, cellar-dwelling Social Justice Warrior ex-quarterback who last played NFL football with the then 2-14 San Francisco 49ers in 2016, into its latest corporate product pitch man was announced over the Labor Day weekend, and on Tuesday when the New York Stock Exchange got its first opportunity to weigh in on it the results weren’t good. Nike’s stock closed Tuesday at $79.60, though it did rise a bit in after-hours trading. That was a pretty serious bath from the $82.20 at which the stock closed on Friday before word leaked of Kaepernick’s contract — a loss of 3.16 percent of its value, or more than $3.5 BILLION in market capitalization.
There’s a great, though underrated, Cameron Crowe movie from 2005 named Elizabethtown, starring Orlando Bloom as a Portland athletic shoe designer whose big idea results in a marketing disaster which nearly wipes out the multinational company he works for. Bloom’s character is not-unsurprisingly fired at the beginning of the movie, and what follows is his soulful journey back from the personal brink. The guess here is Elizabethtown is likely going to be a hot rental in Portland over the coming weeks as many of the marketing geniuses responsible for flying Kaepernick’s stupid social justice warrior standard atop Nike’s flagpole get a similar treatment to Bloom’s Drew Baylor in the movie.
How can it be otherwise? Kaepernick has already laid waste to one American corporate giant’s market share, almost single-handedly tubing the NFL’s TV ratings by double-digits through his idiotic kneeling histrionics during the national anthem, and though he’s been out of the league for more than a year now many of those fans are not rushing back. It could well be that Kaepernick has done significant permanent damage to a brand many thought indestructible before he came along.
And Nike has now embraced that contagion. And why? After all, Nike’s brand was made through affiliation with the best of the world’s athletes — Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, and many more at the top of their games. Now? Nike’s brand will be Shoes For Losers.
After all, Kaepernick’s fall from status as one of the NFL’s top young quarterbacks to that of whiny political poseur incapable of winning football games and losing focus on his craft has made him toxic to NFL owners, who can’t justify the distraction he presents against the upside that he might offer as a backup quarterback — and because of that he’ll not likely play in the league again. But let’s not consider him any sort of martyr, because he most certainly isn’t. It should be remembered that Kaepernick wasn’t blackballed by the NFL, as he’s alleging in his new lawsuit against the league. Both San Francisco and the Denver Broncos offered him contracts as a backup quarterback last year and he turned them down. That isn’t sacrifice; it’s arrogance. He made himself toxic as the face of a franchise, and he furthermore didn’t pursue the opportunity to play in the Canadian Football League, where he could have reclaimed his promise as a top-level quarterback (particularly given the style of play north of the border).
In other words, Kaepernick is a loser as a pro athlete — because he lacks the focus of the other greats on whose success the Nike brand is built. As Jordan famously said when asked about his apolitical stance as an athlete and product pitchman, “Republicans buy basketball shoes, too.” Williams, Woods, and so many others built their personal athletic brands on being soft-spoken on matters political, which is one reason Nike grew to such immense popularity and market share. That’s all gone with this decision.
It’s the kind of action no good businessperson would ever take. But it most certainly is the kind of thing the social justice warrior crowd who increasingly populate the decision-making positions in corporate America can be expected to do.
Again, why? The answer is something we said in our last entry in this space: because the Left is a political movement made up by and for people incapable of doing a good job at honest work.
They took a very good marketing campaign and defiled it with an unfit messenger. Kaepernick is a square peg stuck in a round hole. And this will fall flat, because it doesn’t have a ring of truth to it. It’s too bad, really, because to poison an inspirational message like this is to kill inspiration just a little. And it’s stupid, deficient social justice politics which did the deed.