President Trump critical of Nike's possible Colin Kaepernick ad campaign

"I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent," President Donald Trump said.

The kneeling protest was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (C) in 2016 as a way to protest police brutality, racial injustice and social inequality.   -  Getty Images

President Donald Trump was critical of a potential Nike ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick which the former 49ers quarterback tweeted out on Monday.

"I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it, but I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent" Trump told the Daily Caller. "There’s no reason to send the message.”

In the week that the new NFL season begins, quarterback Kaepernick uploaded images on social media with the Nike logo and 'Just do it' slogan alongside the caption: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything". The image was enough to prompt some to call for a boycott of the company.

 

Kaepernick came to the forefront of the NFL's discussion of social issues when he first sat and then kneeled for the national anthem in 2016. He then spoke about wanting to bring attention to racial injustice in the country saying he could not stand for the anthem because he did not believe the country was upholding the values for which the song stands.

Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since then. Former 49ers team-mate Eric Reid has also come under criticism for joining him in protest during the national anthem.

President Trump has been critical of the NFL in the past for not being more proactive in addressing players kneeling during the national anthem.

The NFL released a statement on Tuesday addressing Kaepernick's fight to draw attention to social issues.

"The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity," Jocelyn Moore, the NFL's executive vice president of communications and public affairs said in a statement. "We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities.

"The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action."

Last November Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in which he alleged that franchise owners colluded to keep him from signing with another team. An NFL request to dismiss the case was denied last month, meaning there is sufficient evidence for it to go to trial.

Support for Kaepernick

Tennis star Serena Williams is among those to have tweeted her approval. "I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African American should be completely grateful and honoured how Colin and Eric are doing so much more for the greater good, so to say," Williams said.

 

Kaepernick advert backlash 'adds' to Nike's message

A sports marketing expert, however, feels the backlash surrounding the advertising campaign would only add to the brand's "legend".

Some social-media users uploaded videos of them burning Nike trainers following the release of the advert.

Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports enterprise, claimed Nike's Kaepernick campaign will have been carefully thought out.

 

"If you're against him, you're probably more likely to be of a pro-Trump ilk and clearly that is not what Nike is trying to do with its brand," he told Omnisport.

"What Nike is trying to do is target the kind of consumers who would look up to Kaepernick as a role model, who see equality as very important, who are resistant to some of the things that Trump and his administration are trying to do.

"For every training shoe burned, for every vehement anti-Nike social media post that's made, it just adds to the brand - it gives credence to what Nike is trying to do. It really adds to the myth and the legend that is Nike.