Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Nike (not a political post)

Instead of looking at Nike's Kaepernick commercial from a political perspective, let's look at it from a strategic and tactical one, which is much more interesting.

In case you're living in a tree deep inside the forest or something, Nike started showing a new ad on Monday for the 30th anniversary of their "Just Do It" campaign, and it features Kaepernick with the tagline "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."

Predictable response. People melting their Nike shoes in a microwave. Cutting off Nike logos from their socks. Swearing a lifetime ban of Nike. Etc.

Let's start with one overriding principle: the NFL and Nike don't give a damn about patriotism or social justice. They only care about either of those things in the context of making as much money as possible.

Capitalism isn't principle-based. It never has been.

For Nike to even consider putting this ad out, they must have done extensive demographic testing and concluded that it's going to make them more money than it loses them.

Do you think that would have been true when Kaepernick first took a knee? Not a chance.

Nike has concluded that the momentum of this issue has changed, and changed substantially.

I think I know the reason why, and that's an interesting discussion (YMMV, obviously).

Colin Kaepernick, outside of everything else, did one very, very smart thing: he stopped talking. He explained why he was doing what he was doing, and then he stopped talking.

Meanwhile, people exhausted themselves saying the filthiest and most disgusting things about him imaginable. They talked and talked and talked.

But you know what? Other people were listening. 

In the 1960s, people protested, and the organized protests were peaceful and resolute. Marching. Talking about justice.

Meanwhile, white people were spitting on little black girls going to elementary school in Arkansas, or unleashing water cannons on unarmed, peaceful protesters in Alabama. Or saying they'd rather shut down the University of Mississippi than accept an African-American student.

There were thousands of moments like that.

That was an undeniably brilliant tactic on the part of civil rights leaders. Refuse to react. Let the other side reveal who they really were, and when they did, large parts of the country were repulsed.

On a smaller scale, that's what's happened now.

I'm not saying that anyone who disagrees with Colin Kaepernick is a bad person, and I would never say that (T.H., I mean you specifically, because I have the highest respect for you).  What I am saying, though, is that sometimes you look around and see who's on your side, and it makes you want to change sides.

To some degree, I think that's what's happened here.

I will also say that, regardless how you feel about Kaepernick, he's lost a significant amount of money by taking this stand, and it is a stand.

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