Nike’s latest ad dares athletes to dream. ‘Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough. #justdoit’
Donald Trump asked a question a week ago that deserves an answer.
“What was Nike thinking?” he tweeted.
We could have offered him a pretty good guess right then. There were some big clues: Nike was being Nike, with its edgy history of embracing rebels and pushing limits, this time building an ad campaign around Colin Kaepernick, the man who infuriated some NFL owners and at least one U.S. president by kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.
Because Nike also is one of the NFL’s most visible and crucial business partners, supplying uniforms and sideline apparel to all 32 teams through at least 2028, you have to say the Kaepernick campaign is the Nike-est Nike thing ever.
But now we have a very specific, definitive answer for the president, in language he most definitely understands. Nike is, of course, a business. Contrary to popular opinion among some Trump fans, Nike actually has meetings before it makes decisions. It probably even has a plan or two, like most $30 billion companies.
So, to reiterate the president’s question: what was Nike thinking?
How about this:
“Let’s make more money.”
Nike’s decision to put the controversial Kaepernick front and center in its new campaign has so far been a huge financial success. Nike’s stock closed at a new high Thursday, rebounding from early losses the day after the company announced its ad campaign featuring Kaepernick.
LeBron James, a Nike guy through and through, met the historic stock price news with this hashtag: #JokesOnYou.
Right after the announcement of the campaign, Nike sales jumped 31%. Some people burned their Nikes and posted videos of the destruction on social media, leading to quite a few other people laughing at those people because their shoes had long since been paid for, with Nike pocketing the profit.
This being a political season, there has even been polling on the topic. A Quinnipiac University poll found that voters approved of Nike’s decision, 49% to 37%. (If Nike were running for Congress this November, that would be a safe district.)
Not surprisingly, the poll found a significant age gap, with those 18 to 34 approving of Nike’s decision, 67% to 21%, while voters 65 and older disapproved, 46% to 39%.
That pretty much guarantees Nike will be in business for the next 50 years, if not forever.
The NFL, too, is in better shape than Trump wants you to believe it is. The league has issues, chief among them concussions, but as a business, it appears to be humming along. The Carolina Panthers sold in May for $2.2 billion, the largest price tag ever for an NFL team. Trump of all people should understand the significance of that.
Meanwhile, TV ratings for the NFL have been just fine. This is another topic our president seems to worry and wonder about far more than he should.
He won’t like this: Of the five most-watched shows on television last week, all five were NFL games. TV ratings are dropping for everything as Americans’ viewing habits become more diffuse by the day. But if there’s anything people will still gather around and watch, it’s their football.
Trump is trying to create the illusion that the NFL, and now Nike, are in trouble. No matter how wrong he is, he has spent hours of his presidency on this issue. He went to Alabama a year ago to help a Republican candidate for the Senate and couldn’t help himself even then, letting loose with his infamous “SOB” line about Kaepernick, presumably to gin up his base.
It’s hard to throw facts at a man who doesn’t believe in them, but facts most definitely exist, and they refute Trump at every turn in this story – including in the business world he presumably understands so well.
There’s a phrase that perfectly captures what Trump has been disseminating about the NFL and Nike, this continual spewing of misinformation and falsehoods. Trump knows it well. Thanks to him, we all do.