The Biz of Taking a Knee: The Kaep & Nike Story

Via Medium: Take any branding class anywhere and they’ll teach you 3 things:

  • Have an identity
  • Create a story
  • Get people talking

Nike might be the best in the world at this. Today Nike came out with a new “Just Do it” Campaign with Colin Kaepernick as the face of it. As I write this at 5pm Pacific time,

almost 510k Tweets with Nike, 211k Kaepernick, and 119k with “Just do it” have been tweeted. It was 3 of the 4 top trending topics earlier in the day. Sure there will be backlash from some for making Kaep the face of this campaign but the support will far outweigh that. Read a few comments and you’ll see few people are on the fence about this. People love it or hate. I love it.

Nike’s statement to ESPN via Gino Fisanotti, VP of brand for North America,: “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward.”

It’s worth noting this isn’t a new contract for Kaep. They had signed him in ’11 and never released him..just hadn’t been promoting the relationship over the past few years. This changes that. A lot. It also happens to be the Monday before the start of the NFL season. A perfect day to hit the Twitterverse running.

Listen Kaepernick was a pretty good NFL QB. When he lost his starting job, took a knee for what he believed in, and then lost his NFL job, he was probably better than most backups and a decent amount of starters in the league. But clearly owners didn’t want to deal with the financial “risk” of him speaking out how he did & the backlash from major sponsors..that’s business…and he likely only had a few more years in the league anyhow. While he lost money in the short term, him taking a knee will be the best business decision of his life. This contract, the many appearances he’s done, the charity he’s started, and multiple opportunities that have come from it are still just the beginning.

What Nike continues to get is culture, influence, and who their market is. And this speaks to it perfectly. We won’t know for months or years the implications of this campaign…but it’s impact on today has been felt like few other brand partnerships in our lifetime.

Until next time, Get your Brand right :)

Patrick Curran

Co Founder


Curran Media