The following is an excerpt from Lauren Silva Laughlin | September 4, 2018 | reuters.com |
DALLAS (Reuters Breakingviews) - Nike is putting a politically divisive foot forward. The sneaker group will feature Colin Kaepernick, the first U.S. National Football League player to kneel in protest during the national anthem, in its “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad campaign. Companies often shy away from politics, but in the commoditized sneaker trade, it’s a risk worth taking.
Kaepernick started the “take the knee” gesture at the beginning of football games as a protest against racial injustice. Other players followed, but not all fans approved. U.S. President Donald Trump called for team owners to fire athletes. In a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll in May, a small majority said it was never appropriate to kneel during the anthem. A June poll from Quinnipiac University found the opposite.
Nike is wading into politics proactively, where others did so under pressure. Dick’s Sporting Goods in February decided to stop selling assault-style firearms or high-capacity magazines in response to school shootings. Delta Air Lines ditched a partnership with the National Rifle Association. Pizza chain Papa John’s International ousted its founder after he criticized NFL leadership.
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