Bye-bye (not buy, buy), Nike

No sane company willingly alienates half of the entire potential U.S. market, yet that's what Nike just did.  This makes me wonder if the people running the company are, in fact, sane – or if, perhaps, those decision-makers live and work in that Manhattan-Hollywood-San Francisco bubble that doesn't recognize that more Americans hate them than support them.

Just what is this all about, anyway?

As a believer in the bottom line, Nike's action left me breathless.  The executive management and the board of Nike have made the decision to use America-hating (or at least traditional America-hating) Colin Kaepernick as the new "face" of Nike's "Just Do It" multi-million-dollar ad campaign.  Kaepernick is the first NFL player to publicly "take a knee" rather than to stand respectfully during the singing of the National Anthem.  The leaders at Nike are apparently intent on profiting from the dubious fame garnered by a former (benched) NFL second-string football player who became the face of anti-American efforts to turn the NFL games away from being sporting events and into part of an ongoing far-left progressive political campaign. 

What the good folks at Nike haven't counted on is the backlash, which will be profound and pervasive even without a formal boycott.  For the record, I am not calling for a boycott – I don't like them, and in this case, a formal boycott's not necessary.  Boycott or not, Nike has just taken an action, one it can't easily walk back, that will cost a huge segment of the American market – and not just for now, but for a long time to come.

This should come at no surprise, for two reasons – one scientific, the other logical without being easily proven.  First, published surveys show that half or more of all those Americans who watched less football in the 2017-2018 season did so primarily or exclusively because they strongly disapproved of the actions of Kaepernick and his followers.  This statistical backlash cost the NFL hundreds of millions in unsold tickets and unsold (or sold for far lower prices) ads on TV networks carrying games that couldn't attract a live in-stadium or a live at-home audience.

There are other examples of how Americans react to other Americans who seem intent on hating America.  Perhaps the best known celebrity who spoke out against America was "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, who, 50 years after her flirtation with North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners whose job it was to kill American servicemen, remains a hated figure, personally (not formally) boycotted by millions, reducing her box office draw in movies and TV shows.  While Kaepernick's name will soon be forgotten (he doesn't have the family Hollywood "royalty" cachet that has helped Hanoi Jane's name remain well known), Americans who don't like what Kaepernick and his ilk are doing will be remembered by the name "Nike."

Taking advantage of the laid-back nature of my home city (Las Vegas) for the past 30 years, I've recently made a "business move" to dress more casually – including substituting jeans, t-shirts, baseball hats, loud Hawaiian shirts, and "polo" shirts...and athletic shoes in place of button-down Oxford Cloth dress shirts and highly shined wingtips...or even dressy-casual Bass Weejuns.  For years now, I've been changing my wardrobe from three-piece suits and Florsheims to the more casual gear Nike brands and sells.

I am an American who believes that standing respectfully during the National Anthem is an appropriate way of beginning sporting events, government meetings, and other gatherings.  Others are free to hold a different perspective...but I don't have to do business with them.  Converse All Stars is going to benefit from my commerce at the expense of Nike, who has just lost my custom – for shoes, golf shirts, baseball hats, and other Nike-branded gear that I might otherwise have worn.  Thanks to its move to interject itself into a national political debate that's got nothing with athletic shoes, ball caps, or sport shirts, Nike just lost me for a client.

Ned Barnett is a branding and marketing expert, ghostwriter, and writing coach working in Las Vegas as founder of Barnett Marketing Communications.  He can be reached at 702-561-1167 or ned@barnettmarcom.com.

No sane company willingly alienates half of the entire potential U.S. market, yet that's what Nike just did.  This makes me wonder if the people running the company are, in fact, sane – or if, perhaps, those decision-makers live and work in that Manhattan-Hollywood-San Francisco bubble that doesn't recognize that more Americans hate them than support them.

Just what is this all about, anyway?

As a believer in the bottom line, Nike's action left me breathless.  The executive management and the board of Nike have made the decision to use America-hating (or at least traditional America-hating) Colin Kaepernick as the new "face" of Nike's "Just Do It" multi-million-dollar ad campaign.  Kaepernick is the first NFL player to publicly "take a knee" rather than to stand respectfully during the singing of the National Anthem.  The leaders at Nike are apparently intent on profiting from the dubious fame garnered by a former (benched) NFL second-string football player who became the face of anti-American efforts to turn the NFL games away from being sporting events and into part of an ongoing far-left progressive political campaign. 

What the good folks at Nike haven't counted on is the backlash, which will be profound and pervasive even without a formal boycott.  For the record, I am not calling for a boycott – I don't like them, and in this case, a formal boycott's not necessary.  Boycott or not, Nike has just taken an action, one it can't easily walk back, that will cost a huge segment of the American market – and not just for now, but for a long time to come.

This should come at no surprise, for two reasons – one scientific, the other logical without being easily proven.  First, published surveys show that half or more of all those Americans who watched less football in the 2017-2018 season did so primarily or exclusively because they strongly disapproved of the actions of Kaepernick and his followers.  This statistical backlash cost the NFL hundreds of millions in unsold tickets and unsold (or sold for far lower prices) ads on TV networks carrying games that couldn't attract a live in-stadium or a live at-home audience.

There are other examples of how Americans react to other Americans who seem intent on hating America.  Perhaps the best known celebrity who spoke out against America was "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, who, 50 years after her flirtation with North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners whose job it was to kill American servicemen, remains a hated figure, personally (not formally) boycotted by millions, reducing her box office draw in movies and TV shows.  While Kaepernick's name will soon be forgotten (he doesn't have the family Hollywood "royalty" cachet that has helped Hanoi Jane's name remain well known), Americans who don't like what Kaepernick and his ilk are doing will be remembered by the name "Nike."

Taking advantage of the laid-back nature of my home city (Las Vegas) for the past 30 years, I've recently made a "business move" to dress more casually – including substituting jeans, t-shirts, baseball hats, loud Hawaiian shirts, and "polo" shirts...and athletic shoes in place of button-down Oxford Cloth dress shirts and highly shined wingtips...or even dressy-casual Bass Weejuns.  For years now, I've been changing my wardrobe from three-piece suits and Florsheims to the more casual gear Nike brands and sells.

I am an American who believes that standing respectfully during the National Anthem is an appropriate way of beginning sporting events, government meetings, and other gatherings.  Others are free to hold a different perspective...but I don't have to do business with them.  Converse All Stars is going to benefit from my commerce at the expense of Nike, who has just lost my custom – for shoes, golf shirts, baseball hats, and other Nike-branded gear that I might otherwise have worn.  Thanks to its move to interject itself into a national political debate that's got nothing with athletic shoes, ball caps, or sport shirts, Nike just lost me for a client.

Ned Barnett is a branding and marketing expert, ghostwriter, and writing coach working in Las Vegas as founder of Barnett Marketing Communications.  He can be reached at 702-561-1167 or ned@barnettmarcom.com.