Nike features NFL’s Kaepernick in ‘Just Do It’ campaign

Reuters, NEW YORK

Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 16

Nike Inc has chosen Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racism, as one of the faces for advertisements commemorating the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” slogan, a move that could draw US President Donald Trump’s ire.

“Colin has been a Nike athlete since 2011,” Nike spokeswoman Sandra Carreon-John said on Monday. “Colin is one of a number of athletes being featured as part of our 30th anniversary of Just Do It.”

Nike last week unveiled the campaign by releasing a film featuring Serena Williams entitled Voice of Belief, she said.

Based on images sent by Nike, other athletes featured in the ad campaign include New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr, skateboarder Lacey Baker and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who is an amputee with one hand.

Former NFL quarterback Kaepernick on Monday posted a black-and-white close-up of himself on Instagram and Twitter featuring the Nike logo and “Just do it” slogan along with the quote: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

“We believe that Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Gino Fisanotti, a Nike vice president of brand for North America, according to ESPN, which first reported Nike’s decision to use Kaepernick as part of the ad campaign.

Representatives for Kaepernick and the NFL did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Kaepernick was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers for six years. He stirred a national controversy by taking a knee while the anthem was played before games during the NFL’s 2016 season to draw attention to police killings of black men and other issues.

The anthem protests, soon embraced by other players, raised the ire of some NFL fans and Trump, who has said he would love to see NFL owners fire football players who disrespect the US flag.

The NFL this season has adopted a rule requiring all players to stand during the anthem, although it gave them the option of staying off the field until the ceremony was over. Even so, the protests have persisted through the pre-season and the NFL has said it is in discussions with the players union on the policy.