What if — and stay with me here — Nike’s marketing team conducted extensive research on a Kaep ad campaign before launch and knew what it was doing?
I know, I know, their stock dropped two bucks per share yesterday on the news and was flat all this morning. How much of that was panic selling (or boycott selling), though, by people who’ve underestimated Nike customers’ tolerance of Kaepernick?
On the other hand, what if this is one of those issues like gun control where you have a majority tepidly in favor of X and a minority adamantly opposed to it? All this poll tells you, really, is that Nike customers are generally well disposed towards Kaepernick. It doesn’t tell you a thing about whether the company might lose sales on balance as righties flee for Adidas and lefties mostly shrug and go about their business.
Nike customers are also more likely than the general public to agree with sentiments like “I like when companies have a moral message” and “I like brands that are willing to get involved in societal issues.” If Nike sales end up going up because of this, we’re destined to see corporate America turn even more woke.
And they really might go up, as unlikely as that seems. As Michael Wolff, then Omarosa, and now Bob Woodward have learned, having the guy in the White House dump on you is a surefire way to pique public interest in your product:
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
I find the NFL hard to watch because quarterback play tends to be terrible but we all go our own way on this. Trump was asked about Nike and Kaepernick yesterday in an interview with the Daily Caller and his reaction was more measured — even a little surprising:
“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,” Trump mused, “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.”…
“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.”
Huh. That is … a pretty principled take by the president, not a guy known for standing up for the rights of people on the other side of a hot-button issue from him. I wonder what led him to — oh. Ohhhh:
“I think it’s a terrible message. Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent,” Trump said, referring to Niketown New York, which is — for now — located at 6 East 57th Street in New York City.
Do a little business with POTUS and effectively you’ve bought “tweet insurance,” as Lachlan Markay calls it. Not entirely, of course: Trump still swiped at them this morning. But it’ll be interesting to see if he makes Nike a regular target to the extent that he’s made the NFL one, especially with his buddies in Fox primetime flogging the company for destroying America or whatever. Maybe Roger Goodell should move the NFL’s headquarters to Trump Tower. If you want the big guy to pipe down, you’ve got to grease the palm.
Oh, one other poll result today from YouGov, the same company responsible for the Nike/Kaep data above: Americans aged 18-34 are by far the age group least likely to concur with the statement, “America is a special country,” with just 26 percent “strongly agreeing.” Coincidentally, Americans aged 18-34 also form a near-majority of Nike’s customer base (44 percent). Go figure that a group that’s less convinced of American exceptionalism than other adults would be more accepting of protests involving American iconography like kneeling during the anthem.