Nike has the freedom to make mistakes, and did it ever make one when the company made former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of a new ad campaign, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
Trump was interviewed by The Daily Caller.
Nike announced this week that it was reprising its “Just Do It” campaign. An image Kaepernick tweeted shows the former football player’s face with the message, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
Kaepernick made headlines in 2016 when he started kneeling for the national anthem, claiming he could not stand for the anthem because blacks are oppressed in America. Kaepernick, who was with the San Francisco 49ers at the time, has since not been picked up by any NFL team.
Trump has strongly spoken out against the protests that mimicked Kaepernick’s gesture. In his interview, he said Nike was wrong to have embraced Kaepernick.
“I think it’s a terrible message. Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent,” Trump said.
“But I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it, but I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it,” he added.
Trump, who made his billions in the private sector, said that a business has the freedom to make the kind of decision Nike made.
“As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way — I mean, I wouldn’t have done it,” Trump said.
“In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”
Trump was more philosophical than he was last year, when he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that Kaepernick deserved to be suspended for his gesture.
“I watched Colin Kaepernick, and I thought it was terrible, and then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming, and frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game, and he would have never done it again,” Trump said then, according to The Washington Post. “I will tell you, you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem. You cannot do that.”
Many believed Nike should pay a price for embracing Kaepernick, and urged a boycott of the company.
One commentator said Nike will be making money for years because of its use of Kaepernick as the face of its campaign.
“What Nike did is a game changer,” said sports marketer Mark Williams, according to CBS. He said Nike is catering to young customers and a diverse audience.
“I think that Nike knows exactly what they’re doing,” Williams said. “They look at things globally and how they can change things culturally and as a society.”
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