Some of Nike's biggest rivals reportedly wanted to sign Colin Kaepernick ahead of his new 'Just Do It' campaign

  • Nike revealed on Monday that Colin Kaepernick is the face of its “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad campaign.
  • While the move was a calculated risk on the part of Nike, it wasn't the only brand interested in getting Kaepernick as an ambassador, with rivals Puma and Adidas reportedly among the companies looking to sign the athlete-turned-activist.
  • Reaction to Nike's campaign has been swift and predictable, with his supporters praising the move and his detractors burning their shoes.


Colin Kaepernick may still be out of the NFL, but as his new Nike campaign shows, he's still a central figure in the worlds of sports.

On Monday, Nike revealed Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad campaign.

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People react to Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad campaign
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People react to Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad campaign
.@Nike Due to your support of C.K. in your coming adds, I as an American can no longer support your company.… https://t.co/vKkFpsg87P
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me… https://t.co/ZUqEd7ldUd
Our Soundman just cut the Nike swoosh off his socks. Former marine. Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions. https://t.co/h8kj6RXe7j
The Twitter user ArtenenAeolus shared a video, since deleted, of a man burning some Nike products. (ArtenenAeolus/Twitter)
When you find out #nike is supporting #ColinKaepernick #BoycottNike 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/EQRGcPoaFr
When you find out #nike is supporting #ColinKaepernick #BoycottNike 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/EQRGcPoaFr
Nike ran the numbers. They’ll be ok. But please, burn your socks.
Not playing around. #BackTheBlue #BackTheArmedForces #NikeBoycott https://t.co/uoJcRVJZM5
I just gave $10 this weekend to a homeless veteran. Instead of burning your Nike gear like a goddamned idiot, donat… https://t.co/57AUzQbNL2
#NikeBoycott meet this #VeteransForKaepernick Retired Navy Chief. I served so that Kap can have his voice and spea… https://t.co/QspDdYckjZ
Waiting for Goodwill to open this week with all the new Nike gear... #ColinKaepernick #nikeboycott https://t.co/4nqSOrknrj
Hey #Nike . I don't wear politics or anything related to #ColinKaepernick I no longer buy 5 to 6 pairs per year of… https://t.co/IlATG1XUMI
.@Nike Due to your support of C.K. in your coming adds, I as an American can no longer support your company.… https://t.co/vKkFpsg87P
Let me guess we‘re boycotting Nike because by them supporting Colin Kaepernick they are somehow “disrespecting the… https://t.co/VJF0LOJXDG
Ripping my Nike Air Max to own the libs #BoycottNike https://t.co/FYzpNoZiHX
Can't believe Nike would do such a thing. @Nike @Kaepernick7 #fire #JustDoIt #BoycottNike https://t.co/otqcS49AMu
.@Nike how you going to endorse @Kaepernick7 a person that advertises socks with cops portrayed as pigs, a person t… https://t.co/V2AW0OoMvI
@BreitbartNews Burned my #Nike https://t.co/62rQsXomRH
@TheLastRefuge2 @R_Daneel_0livaw Takin out the trash @Nike #nikeboycott https://t.co/Iz532FatEQ
I just wrote “NIKE” on twenty dollar bills and burned them to own the libs.
wow can’t believe colin kaepernick just became the official spokesperson of brake lines
I'm finally cutting out the Nike logos out of my Nike pillow case! https://t.co/cP9Un6PVzH
Breaking: Nike responds to MAGA backlash https://t.co/8NQj0Y9Hkt
them: Gonna burn/throw away my Nike gear because they are unpatriotic Nike: https://t.co/k1kroZ02cG
“This is terrible marketing. Just awful. I’m gonna show everyone how terrible this is. That’ll show Nike.” https://t.co/XNN06YnPMF
Racists: I’m never buying Nike again Nike: https://t.co/YGD23VWVFA
nike brilliantly found a way to get the least stylish people to stop wearing its stuff
oh wow not sure how Nike's going to survive if they lose the 70 year old white man market
When you can’t find a cross https://t.co/efrqlN09fH
Me, looking to see if anybody burns some Jordans rather the Nike’s they got on the clearance rack https://t.co/5ZKHvpqJOP
Going one step further and no longer worshiping Nike as my goddess of victory. Will ONLY recognize Victoria, her Ro… https://t.co/m1SnsmHcws
Wow Nike. Not a good look https://t.co/MZrOXdukxV
I actually need a new pair of workout shoes. The choices are dizzying. The #NikeBoycott helps me narrow the decisi… https://t.co/rqKgx8hAfY
I Always thought the Air Jordan’s craze was silly. But I will be buying 10 pairs of Those "Air Kaepernick’s" when t… https://t.co/xQM13jsWej
Whether you agree with Nike doing the Kaepernick ad or not it’s bold and I like it. Wish more big companies took risk to make a statement.
✊🏾 https://t.co/P5xQr2lwLk
Legendary. https://t.co/mvS6ChlXhH
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The former 49ers standout-turned-activist has been with the brand since 2011 but had not been featured in ads for two years. Now, it looks as thought Kap will be a centerpiece for Nike, at least for the near future.

While the decision was undoubtedly a calculated risk for the brand — trusting that its customer base will be more pro-Kaepernick than his loudest detractors on the internet — Nike wasn't the only company looking to have Kaepernick as an ambassador.

According to a report from Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports, Adidas and Puma were among the brands that had been interested in signing Kaepernick. From Robinson:

"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."

So far, reactions to Nike's Kaepernick-centric campaign has been swift and predictable, earning praise from those supportive of Kaepernick's cause, while others burned their Nike gear. Ironically, the brands that missed out on signing him might still capitalize off of Kaepernick indirectly — some people have pledged to buy Adidas and boycott Nike in response to the campaign.

There's no doubt that Nike expected these opposing reactions to the campaign, but it appears it wasn't the only brand willing to take the risk of alienating some of its potential customers in order to capitalize on the press and goodwill that including Kaepernick would earn in other circles.

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