Nike has experienced a significant increase in online sales despite the controversy surrounding an ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick.
The sportswear giant’s decision to include the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback in its latest Just Do It campaign led to calls for a boycott and saw some customers burn their Nike products in protest.
Kaepernick was the first player to kneel during the National Anthem as a protest against racial injustice, becoming a figure of both intense admiration and hate in the US.
President Donald Trump and his supporters have accused players who “take a knee” during the anthem of disrespecting the American flag and the military.
After the ad was released, Nike lost more than 3% of its stock market value, but the latest sales data suggests the gamble may have paid off.
The report from Edison Trends, an American advertising research firm, found that online sales rose 31% from 2 September to 4 September, which included the Labor Day bank holiday Monday. This is almost twice as much as the 17% increase recorded during the same period in 2017.
“There was speculation that the Nike/Kaepernick campaign would lead to a drop in sales, but our data over the last week does not support that theory,” Hetal Pandya, co-founder of Edison Trends, told Marketwatch.com.
The Washington Post also reports that Kaepernick’s 49ers jersey has continued to rank among the best-selling ones in the league despite his remaining unsigned.
But Robert Reich, the American professor and former Secretary of Labor, said “no one should be under the illusion that Nike was motivated by moral principle”.
He tweeted: “Its financial strategists figured that the added sales would more than offset any lost sales. Corporations aren’t moral beings. They exist to make money.”