In the past few days, social media has erupted in criticism for famous sneaker and shortwear company Nike.
The reason: the American national anthem.
This week, Nike announced that the new face of its latest ad campaign is none other than Colin Kaepernick, the football player who became a celebrity activist after kneeling for the nationl anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism in the American justice system.
Conservatives in the United States conflate the national anthem with patriotism itself. Indeed, the anthem and flag are fetish objects for the disciples of Donald Trump.
So in response to Nike's announcement, many took to social media to express their disdain to the brand and call for a boycott. Many even burned their Nike products in protest."
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
Trump today weighed in on Nike's decision. On Twitter, he claimed that Nike is getting "absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.
Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
Well today, Nike released the full television advertisement featuring Kaepernick and dozens of other athletes.
You have to watch it. It will give you chills:
The video highlights some of the greatest athletes of all time, many of whom, including Serena Williams and LeBron James, are people of colour.
The ad is a genius business move. Nike knew that Kaepernick would provoke both intense support and opposition. Both camps would express their perspectives on social media, resulting in massive publicity for the company.
The ad is hardly a demostration of disrespect for American values, as haters have suggested. Instead, it celebrates one of the greatest advents of the American republic: free speech.