NFL responds to Nike's choice of Kaepernick for new ad campaign

The NFL responded Tuesday to Nike’s decision to put former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the center of its latest ad campaign.

“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities,” said Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”

Kaepernick has a lot of people talking about him and Nike after it was announced Monday that he is the new face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. An ad featuring his face has gained traction on social media and billboards have rolled out with the slogan “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” 

While Nike clothing is easily recognizable on the street, some aren’t so happy with the company’s move. People have shared videos and pictures on social media of them burning their Nike gear and shoes. They feel Kaepernick was disrespectful when he took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He has not been signed since he was released by the team.

Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow said Nike took a calculated risk. She believes the company is appealing to a younger consumer base since the majority of millennials support cause-driven campaigns.

“I think it's part of Nike's mission to be a cause driven marketer,” Yarrow said. “This is the goal. This is what they want to do. You can't just simply describe a product anymore. You have to connect emotionally, especially when it comes to sports products and things that are a little more interchangeable.”

Customers outside the San Francisco Nike store in Union Square offered their support of Kaepernick. 

“I think Kaepernick is a great symbol of an athlete who stands up for what he believes in and I'm proud of Nike for believing in him,” Rebecca Rose, a San Francisco resident, said.

“He's standing up for his right just like Mohammed Ali and he's the new Muhammed Ali of the next generation,” Michael Morris, of Sacramento, said. “Not many people have the guts to do that nowadays.”

Kaepernick’s deal with Nike comes as he is suing the NFL, which also has a partnership with the Nike. The campaign will feature Kaepernick’s own apparel line and Nike will contribute to his charity called “Know Your Rights.”