Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. This is the famous quote that was taken from a controversial Nike ad that has now surpassed over 80 million views across all social media platforms. This is the same commercial that sent social media into a heated discussion between the left and right. However, it’s not the quote that got the right riled up; it’s the narrator of the commercial. The narrator is none other than ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick. Most are familiar with his history in regards to the NFL but if you aren’t, he was a football player who played for the San Francisco 49ers. However, he didn’t gain mainstream exposure through his skills on the field. In August of 2016, Kaepernick decided to kneel during the pledge of allegiance in an effort to raise awareness towards police brutality and social injustice. By doing so, he created a media frenzy and sparked a national discussion regarding racial injustice and inequality that even evoked a response from the President of The United States. The President was outraged and caused the right to be even more fired up. So it is no surprise that when Nike released their commercial as part of the “Just Do It” campaign, it caused an uproar and had people rebelling against Nike with hashtags on social media such as “BoycottNike” and even caused these people to burn their once beloved Nikes. But what was the purpose of all this commotion?
As one can see in the attached video, the commercial is filled with minorities that are often seen as less than and are called crazy for having ambitious dreams. The commercial continues on while it is narrated by a man with a deep, yet calming voice. As the commercial continues on through different peoples’ dreams, it is finally revealed that the narrator is Colin Kaepernick. The music used in the commercial is slightly upbeat which helps it carry a tone that is overall motivating. This commercial was played for the first time at a season opener game with millions watching. Once it gained traction and publicity, it was made available for millions more to watch on all social media platforms. The commercial was made for anyone that has a dream that may seem “too crazy” for them to accomplish. During the time of release, the social climate was heavy on racial injustices and was gaining heavy media exposure. Nike could’ve used any athlete for this commercial and not have to change a single line from the script, but they strategically chose Colin Kaepernick as their medium to send a message. While there may not be a sole motive behind this commercial, there sure are many goals that were accomplished since the release of the commercial.
“Shares of Nike reached an all-time high…” the headlines read a month after the release of the infamous Dream Crazy commercial produced by Nike. (CBS News) How did Nike, a multi-billion dollar company, manage to reach an all-time high in their stock prices? As discussed previously, Colin Kaepernick is seen as a brave athlete by many. He used his platform before an NFL football game to bring awareness to social issues he is concerned with. This caused great controversy and even lead to his dismissal from the NFL. Many would argue that featuring him in an ad is extremely controversial and a gamble. But that’s exactly what Nike aimed for. When an ad uses a controversial topic, in this case Colin Kaepernick, it gains extreme media exposure and invokes conversation. It is no secret that Colin Kaepernick’s approval rating mainly comes from a younger audience and more specifically young males. Coincidentally, Nike’s consumers are young males and athletes. Linking the two together and releasing the commercial on social media, where the audience is primarily millennials, is one of the best financial business decision Nike could make. This increased stock shares and left the company in good standing with the general public. Therefore, it is not much of a gamble to use Kaepernick as a medium to convey an uplifting message that ultimately increase profits all while making a statement in social history.
In regards to Colin Kaepernick, he is seen as a social justice warrior by many. However, after losing his national platform, he only had social media to send his message out. It was clear that in a few years, his message will not be as strong and present than it is now. With a sports giant like Nike, which has millions upon millions of supporters, backing his statement and mission, he regains traction and redirects the spotlight back to social injustices. Not to mention the financial compensation for the commercial was a huge win for Kaepernick. Overall, it was a win for all parties involved and had little repercussions.
Producers of the commercial purposely utilized different rhetorics in the making of their commercial to gain favor in the public eye. The commercial pans to a shot of a young colored boy who is missing his legs. In the commercial, he is seen wrestling with another young boy who is also his age, but isn’t disabled. He is shown winning the wrestling match. This prompts viewers to feel a wide array of emotions such as empathy, happiness, and for some, sadness.
This is known as pathos when it comes to a rhetorical analysis. Furthermore, in the commercial, another refugee boy is seen playing soccer while the narrator says “If you’re born a refugee, don’t let it stop you from playing soccer for the national team… at age sixteen.” It then cuts to Alphonso Davies, who was once an actual refugee, playing soccer for a national team at age sixteen. They were sure to include this because it appealed to the audiences’ logos. Nike wanted to send a message that what they’re saying has truth to it and it gives their message credibility. And finally, when it is revealed that the narrator is Colin Kaepernick, it gives the audience a revelation that everything that was stated before in the commercial became more powerful because the message was given from someone that gave up his entire career for something he believed in. This is a fine example of an author using ethos as a way to appeal to their audience.
Overall, the commercial was well written, and well thought out. The commercial Nike produced gave itself credibility and appealed to the audiences’ emotions and other rhetorical strategies. It was obvious that it was a successful commercial that fulfilled its purpose by increasing the overall worth of Nike as well as sending a social message to the audience. Colin Kaepernick reignited the public’s discussion about social injustices.
ZIRIN, DAVE. “Just Do It?” Nation, vol. 307, no. 8, Oct. 2018, pp. 4–8. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=131746028&site=ehost-live.
In this article, the writer discusses social, political, and economic aspects of Nike’s ad with the famously controversial Colin Kaepernick ad. Using this article is essential to my essay in developing a better understanding of the topic. I will be using this when referencing Nike’s marketing strategy.
Lewis, Thabiti. “Leaders of the New School: Colin Kaepernick and a New Generation of Athletes Are Fighting for Change.” Crisis (15591573), vol. 123, no. 4, Fall 2016, pp. 12–17. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=126854113&site=ehost-li
In this article, the writer discusses star athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Venus Williams, and Colin Kaepernick, and their stand against racial injustice and inequality. Using this article will help when comparing other athletes with Colin Kaepernick.
Rosenberg, Michael. “Truth Teller.” Sports Illustrated, vol. 127, no. 18, Dec. 2017, pp. 60–62. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=126610279&site=ehost-live.
This periodical discusses the timeline of Colin Kaepernick and the first time he kneeled. It also discusses the pros and cons of what has happened to him since then. This article also explains how his message has been distorted by the media for political and economical gain. This will be essential in my essay when discussing Kaepernick’s views and how serious he is about it.