White Boycotts Don’t Work: How Nike Secured the Bag By Supporting Colin Kaepernick

 A billboard featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is displayed on the roof of the Nike Store on September 5, 2018, in San Francisco.
A billboard featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is displayed on the roof of the Nike Store on September 5, 2018, in San Francisco.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

As people more concerned with respecting inanimate objects and 200-year-old songs than the actual lives of black people continue to express their discontent with Nike’s support of Colin Kaepernick by setting their shoes on fire, everyone wondered how the boycott against Nike would affect the company’s bottom line.


Everyone but me, that is.

Even after the stock fell by three percent in the wake of the announcement that Kaepernick would become the face of the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, people whose shoe wardrobe consists of flip-flops, cowboy boots, boat shoes and Birkenstocks wondered why Nike would take such a huge risk to sully its brand.

But not even a week later, the stock has rebounded and is now soaring, according to Yahoo Finance and the Street. Twenty-four hours after the Kaepernick announcement, there were 2.7 million social media mentions of Nike, which is a 1,400 percent increase compared to the previous day according to social media analytics company, Talkwalker, who shared their data with The Root.

Fortune and Apex Marketing Group report that the ensuing buzz was worth about $43 million in free advertising. To put that in perspective, a 30-second prime-time broadcast ad cost about $134,000 last year, according to Ad Age. So white people burned about 2 hours and 4o minutes in commercials worth of shoes, which is about the same amount of time it takes Lauryn Hill’s chakras to align before a show. Or, almost a quarter of Aretha Franklin’s funeral runtime.

And, while many of those tweets, posts and mentions were negative—as they say in marketing meetings, advertising firms and any Kardashian living room—“All publicity is good publicity.”

And now, the preliminary numbers are in.

In the four-day period after the Kaepernick ad debuted, Nike’s online sales grew by 27 percent, according to Edison Trends, a research company which collects the actual receipts from more than 200 online retailers, Bloomberg reports.


Also, companies like Nike don’t calculate profits by the day or month. At the very least, they calculate them by the quarter, but more than likely, it’s the yearly profits that they regard. Even if Nike’s stock, sales and brand identity slipped, the company has so much market share that any slip likely wouldn’t matter. And here’s why:

First of all, two-thirds of Nike’s customers are under 35 years old. And most of those customers, black or white, don’t care whether or not Kaepernick kneels, according to polls.


Furthermore, to become a Nike retailer, you can’t order 50 pairs of shoes one month, and if they don’t sell, you order two pairs next month. They require retailers to purchase a minimum amount of goods, whether customers buy them or not according to two shoe retailers who spoke with The Root on background.

And none of this makes Nike a hero ... Or a villain. They are just a business. But there is another overwhelming factor in why Nike’s Kaepernick ad was smart and will ultimately prove profitable: White boycotts don’t work.


Aside from the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott, can you name another boycott by white America that worked?

Remember how upset conservatives were when Target announced its support for transgender rights? In April 2016 more than 700,000 people pledged to boycott the giant retail chain.


Today, the stock is at a five-year high.

How are Amazon and Walmart doing after people boycotted them for not unionizing? Chick-fil-A? Starbucks all but disappeared after they went to war on Christmas, right? Ever since Ben and/or Jerry said they supported Black Lives Matter, I can’t find a carton of Cherry Garcia anywhere! And poor Netflix, after they announced that they would have a series called Dear White People, they totally went under!


Black boycotts have had some impact. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was one of the galvanizing moments of the Civil Rights Movement. An analysis by Citylab says the NAACP’s boycott of South Carolina for its Confederate flag cost the state millions in tourism revenue. Another NAACP boycott of North Carolina forced the NBA to move its all-star game. Some retailers even say they felt the impact of last year’s BlackOut Friday boycotts.


Perhaps it is because it is easier to galvanize a smaller population than one so widespread and multifaceted as the white majority.

Or maybe it is because white people don’t give a fuck.

Perhaps they never cared about transgender restrooms, the national anthem, the Confederate flag or Christmas anyway. In America, they have never had to sacrifice their comfort or safety simply because of who they were or what they believed. It is hard to see how they care so much about respecting the flag, freedom or liberty while they watch their country kill, imprison and snatch babies from black and brown people every day.


It’s their knee-jerk, default need to oppress that makes them whine. They don’t want transgender people to pee. They don’t want people who practice other religions to feel welcome when they grab a cup of coffee. They don’t want black people to play football, or protest or ... live.

The hate they have for Colin Kaepernick has nothing to do with the flag or the troops. They just want him to shut the fuck up. They don’t want to be reminded of the injustice of America when they’re trying to watch their new-millennium Mandingos. And if it takes burning their shoes or banning a talented quarterback, so be it.


And that is America. A grand exercise in ownership. This is their country. And if you can’t shut up, stand when they tell you, pee where they want and have the common fucking decency to wish them a Merry Christmas, then why should they even try to understand how it feels to walk a mile in your shitty, belligerent, nigger shoes?

Like Alabama buses, black churches, shoes they don’t wear anyway and Colin Kaepernick’s whole damn career ...


They’d rather see it burn.


Not Enough Day Drinking

Look, these are people who’s idea of a ‘boycott’ is going to Starbucks, buying a coffee, and giving the name ‘Trump’ to really stick it to the libs.

They’re going to go out and buy Nike gear just so they can film themselves burning it, post it to Facebook, and act like they really showed Nike who’s boss.