Nike almost dropped Colin Kaepernick before embracing him.

– Impactful Campaign: Nike's Kaepernick campaign, launched a month ago, has garnered over 80 million views on social media, making it one of the most successful and talked-about in recent years.

– Celebrity Status: The ads propelled Kaepernick into a new realm of celebrity, allowing him to become a civil rights entrepreneur in sports, signing deals for a book, a speaking tour, and a comedy series.

– Controversial Decision: In 2017, Nike debated cutting ties with Kaepernick, considering his controversial image. The company risked angering the NFL, a partner since 2012, but ultimately decided to embrace the athlete, seeing potential gains with its targeted urban market.

– Risk Worth Taking: Despite Kaepernick's national anthem protests leading to his unemployment in the NFL, Nike believed supporting his crusade against racism and inequality was a risk worth taking for credibility with their young, urban audience.

– Flummoxed Sports Marketing: Nike's sports marketing group initially struggled with how to utilise Kaepernick's sponsorship due to his lack of active play. Before severing ties, top executives were persuaded to keep him on board due to potential negative publicity.

– Year of Silence: After the decision to keep Kaepernick, he was largely ignored for nearly a year, as Nike navigated the challenges of leveraging his sponsorship without active participation in football.

– National Discourse Ignited: Kaepernick's 2016 kneeling protests during the national anthem ignited a national discourse on racism, social inequality, and police brutality, drawing criticism from President Trump and leaving him unsigned by any NFL team.

– Business Sense Prevailed: Nike's about-face in supporting Kaepernick's cause was driven by its advertising firm's advice, emphasising that associating with his crusade made good business sense despite potential fallout with the NFL.


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