Colin Kaepernick has been chosen to front Nike’s 30th anniversary advertising campaign of the ‘Just Do It’ slogan.
The American apparel giants have signed a new multi-year extension with Kaepernick and the put him at the centre of its newest marketing material, with the slogan: ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.’
Kaepernick’s appearance in the campaign comes amidst the backdrop of the 30-year-old’s collusion claim against the National Football League (NFL). Last week Kaepernick’s lawyer announced that system arbitrator Stephen B Burbank had put forward the case for trial.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been out of the league since opting out of his contract in March 2017 to become a free agent. He sparked controversy during the 2016 preseason when he began to kneel during the pre-game national anthem, in protest against police violence against African-Americans.
Kaepernick’s legal claim states that NFL team owners have conspired to ensure that the quarterback remains without employment, going against the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which forbids teams from colluding to deny a player a contract.
Nike’s position alongside the NFL heightens the controversy of the advertising campaign, with the sportswear giants the league-wide supplier of team uniforms. Given Kaepernick’s current position in the sport, as well as a potential court case, Nike’s campaign has generated major debate.
He appears in the adverts alongside New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr and Seattle Seahawks’ amputee linebacker Shaquem Griffin.
Kaepernick first signed a deal with Nike in 2011. ESPN report that the sportswear company has kept the former 49ers player on its payroll throughout the controversy, which has seen Kaepernick overlooked for jobs in favour of inferior candidates.
Many players have since followed Kaepernick’s lead in speaking out, but the protests have caused mass debate across the United States, with President Donald Trump calling for the activists to be sacked.
Gino Fisanotti, vice president of branding for North America at Nike, told ESPN: “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward.”
Following Kaepernick’s appearance in the campaign, social media has seen both the #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt hashtags used, reigniting a debate that has become a real hot topic for the NFL. The ‘Just Do It’ ad has generated more than a million tweets, with Nike staying as the top-trending subject on Twitter for more than seven hours. Nike, Kaepernick and #JustDoIt all appear in the social media site’s top ten trends.