Nike wins Emmy for controversial Kaepernick advertisement

Published on September 21, 2019

Nike won the award for “outstanding commercial” on Sunday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. This is the first time Nike has won the award since 2002.

The September 2018 advertisement titled “Dream Crazy” features former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes such as Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., and LeBron James.

Nike’s campaign

Kaepernick became the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign with a slogan reading “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

The “Dream Crazy” campaign encouraged individuals to follow their passions even when others try to belittle them for dreaming too big.

The commercial was on air a couple of years after Kaepernick first knelled during the national anthem at a 2016 NFL preseason game to stand up against racial injustice.

That year, several protests erupted nationwide amidst the deaths of African Americans Alton Sherling, Philando Castile, Deborah Danner and many others by police actions. And earlier this year Nike reacted to criticism from a cadre of women athletes who took issue with the company’s maternity policies. (It changed them.)


Upon releasing the ad, people against Kaepernick and Nike shared their thoughts on social media with the hashtag #NikeBoycott trending. Many individuals opposed to the message of Nike released videos online burning the company’s shoes and jerseys.

Twitter user @sclancy79 said, “First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose the country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive?”

Even President Trump took to Twitter to voice his opinions, “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”

In response to angry customers, user @LaBeck81 said, “Nike has your money already and now you are ruining clothes that underprivileged kids could be using. What a hero”.

Nike CEO Mark Parker defended Kaepernick and called him “one of the most inspirational athletes of our time.”

The effect on sales

Nike shares began decreasing to approximately 3.2 percent the morning after the commercial was revealed. But within a few days, online sales for Nike skyrocketed and the company’s value exceeded $6 billion by the end of September. In 2017, online orders had dropped 2 percent in the same time period but increased 27 percent in 2018.

CNBC claims sales increased because today’s customers prefer buying from brands who tend to be socially conscious, therefore, many of the consumers contributing to the rise most likely support Kaepernick’s and Nike’s message.

Are Kaepernick and Nike still working together?

Since then, Kaepernick has not appeared in any Nike commercials and have only released two products in collaboration with the former quarterback, which rapidly sold out.

A company spokesman said they are still “supportive of Colin on and off the field” and consumers can expect “future Colin Kaepernick products.”

Nike faced adversity once again in July after releasing sneakers featuring the Betsy Ross flag, an early design of the United States flag featuring 13 stars for the number of colonies at the time.

The multi-billion-dollar company stopped production and sales of the sneakers after Kaepernick told officials the flag is reminiscent to a period of slavery.

Kaepernick has been working with Nike since 2011.

Click here to see the full list of winners from the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Faisal Quyyumi is a News Columnist at Grit Daily. He is a Production Assistant at CNN and a former Production Intern for The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah at Comedy Central.

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