Protesting the protester

Brand politics heat up. Literally.

Graphic by: Sarah Massey I Production Manager

When I first learned people were burning Nike shoes, I was shocked.

The shoes look and feel great, sure, but burning a shoe that can run up into hundreds of dollars seems ridiculous.

Then I learned why people were tearing off the emblem and getting rid of their shoes: their own act of protest to Colin Kaepernick.

Now let me just say, before we delve any deeper into this, that I had a neutral opinion to the controversy surrounding kneeling during
the national anthem. While I wasn’t strongly offended by his action, I know veterans and friends who were.

As Americans, we are all garnered the right to freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. We saw this the day Kaepernick took a knee and hundreds of thousands of Americans were moved by this action in either a positive or negative way. So then how does this go  back to Nike?

Kaepernick was recently revealed as the face of Nike’s most recent campaign, and as someone who is slowly becoming more and more of a shoe fanatic, I can see why some people may be burning some shoes.

But let me just add that I am here for Kaepernick’s campaign. The fact that his own peaceful forms of protesting is being tied to people literally lighting shoes on fire is quite a response, and many find the action ridiculous. I am truly intrigued to see how this all plays out. These forms of protest are made to garner attention, and at least on the side of millennials, many appear to be on Nike’s side.

A recent article by Los Angeles Times stated that “…the move was sure to be seen by many as provocative, the Beaverton, Ore., company is betting that more customers will support it — particularly the younger demographic that Nike is courting.”

While Nike’s stock has gone down three percent as of Tuesday, Sept. 4, this idea seems to be supporting it, despite those who are upset by the decision. According to a report from Edison Trends, an advertising research firm, Nike’s online sales grew 31 percent. For their 30th anniversary, Nike’s choices have stirred up America, and we can either contribute to the controversy or further discuss how we got to this point in the first place.