In an attempt to pander to “woke” consumers, Nike has made Colin Kaepernick the ugly mug of its “Just Do it” ad campaign. Presumably, Nike is signaling that it’s taking a knee against “racism”—whatever that means now. We’ve already established there is no evidence to support Kaepernick’s narrative. Not only are the claims about police brutality and police shootings false, the fact is that if we consider interracial homicide, whites are on the losing side.
But no matter. Nike is latching on to a false narrative because they have calculated that doing so will enlarge its bottom line because the brand’s consumers, at least according to the head honchos at Nike, are more unpatriotic than not—otherwise, why take the risk?
More important, Nike believes that the vast majority of Americans are too stupid or too lazy to take a stand against them. Let me say that again: This multibillion-dollar, multinational corporation, considered “the world’s most valuable apparel brand,” thinks you are too stupid or too lazy to do anything about it, and its marketing gurus are counting on you to take their insults lying down. In effect, Nike has declared: “You know what, Americans are idiots. We can spit in their faces and they’ll still line up to buy our shoes. Watch us do it.”
I do not want to believe that they are right. I do not want to accept that so many Americans are apathetic, enervated, and utterly without conviction. When the news broke that Nike made Kaepernick their idiot poster boy, I immediately resolved to dumpster my expensive Nike Metcon shoes. Why? Because boycotts are an American tradition. Granted, not all boycotts are worthwhile. The In-N-Out boycott launched by Democrats in California, for example, is a prime example of what not to boycott.
California Democratic Party Chairman Eric C. Bauman last week demanded diners stop eating In-N-Out’s delicious burgers because the chain had the nerve to donate $25,000 to the California GOP. (Never mind that the company also gives money to Democrats.) This is stupid. Even this leftist columnist says so.
That said, historically Americans have deep-sixed boatloads of merchandise when roused by a cause worthy of the fight. But before several tons of Darjeeling tea ended up at the bottom of Boston Harbor, there were indeed boycotts.
When the British Implemented the Townshend Acts in 1767, Americans responded by mobilizing boycott committees against British goods. Newspapers shamed colonists by name for breaking with boycotts to purchase British goods and it very quickly became “uncool” to buy British—I see no reason why we should not do the same with Nike today. After all, American colonists managed to cut purchases from England in half, landing a formidable blow against British merchants.
Nike and retail analysts, however, count on this strain of American spiritedness being dead and buried. Just in case, however, they have prepared a way to discredit boycotters, should they arise.
“The alt-right calls for a Nike boycott will fail just like the boycott of Dick’s Sporting Goods failed [it didn’t really],” said market research analyst Matt Powell. “Old angry white guys are not a core demographic for Nike.”
Read that statement carefully and you will notice two things. First, calls to boycott a fundamentally anti-American campaign are “alt-right,” therefore synonymous with white supremacy, Nazism, and Antisemitism. Second, only white men can be patriotic Americans. The second point is the most important in understanding why Kaepernick landed this spot.
Nike and analysts like Powell have confidently concluded that non-white consumers won’t boycott because they are less patriotic than their white counterparts. Non-whites, Nike believes, are likely to find themselves in agreement with Kaepernick’s position that police officers are slave catchers, and thus ripe for their picking with this marketing campaign.
The question now is whether we will prove Nike and analysts like Powell correct. Are non-white Americans so unpatriotic that they’ll be successfully pandered to? Are Americans in general so slavish and incompetent that they’ll allow yet another corporation to diminish the salience of patriotism for profit? Here’s what we do know. Since Nike announced its decision to make a poor man’s Malcolm X their figurehead, the company has suffered a loss of $3.75 billion in market value. Nike and market analysts are counting on us to forget this spat, they’re counting on non-whites to make up these losses for them.
For my part, I’ve tossed out one pair of shoes and convinced two people never to buy Nike again, and neither they, nor I, are “old angry white guys.”
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Photo Credit: AP/Nike