Colin Kaepernick's Nike ad.

When Nike unveiled their new Just Do It campaign centered around Colin Kaepernick, it was predictably a major story. But while much of the focus was the backlash from a certain segment of the population who believe that Nike is going to lose buyers, had Nike not done this, it seems like another major company would have.

That’s according to this deep dive into the deal from Yahoo’s Charles Robinson:

Industry insiders told Yahoo Sports that Adidas and Puma were among multiple brands that had conversations about potentially building around Kaepernick if Nike failed to renew his deal following a long stretch of endorsement inactivity.

“We talked about Colin in March. A lot, actually,” one shoe industry executive said. “We all know the specific kind of deals NFL players are on with each other. His deal was running out and he had a shoe commitment that hadn’t been done for whatever reason. I’m sure it was because of everything that was going on around him. But it looked like Nike was running out the clock on [his deal] because he didn’t have a lot of time left and nothing was really happening with him. So there were some discussions for us about what kind of an endorser he could be.

“It’s apparent that, you know, even though he isn’t playing, he’s still connecting with a lot of people. I also think he’s exponentially more popular, and in some cases unpopular, than he ever was in the NFL.”

This should make sense, because no matter what any blogger tells you, a business like Nike runs plenty of cost-benefit analysis when considering things like this. Are some morons going to burn their shoes (they’ve already bought) and not buy more Nike stuff? Sure, maybe. But they obviously have data showing more people will end up supporting the brand, and other companies in the industry clearly had similar ideas.

The market at work!

Social media left little doubt of the impact the move could have on the brand, with Kaepernick and Nike dominating Twitter’s “trending” section from the moment the new endorsement plan was announced. It drew praise on Twitter from former CIA director John Brennan and, via Instagram, from NBA superstar LeBron James.

Nike had well over 1 million unique tweets in the first eight hours after news of the deal broke Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, Kaepernick’s first tweet about it hit 176,000 retweets and nearly 416,000 likes in that same span.

We’ll obviously have to wait for the lasting impact, but so far, at least, the marketing campaign is doing what marketing campaigns are designed to do: generate interest.


About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.