I’m now an aging, fat, balding, married, father of two blogger closing in on 11 full years since I paid $10 to register this domain so I like to believe I’ve seen a few things here on the Internet over that length of time and can smell a marketing play when I see one, especially the one Nike released on Monday just in time to create a huge controversy as we head into July 4th festivities.
Nike decided to shelve plans for a shoe featuring the 13-star American flag associated with Betsy Ross after a complaint by Colin Kaepernick, according to a report Monday. The shoe was set to go on sale this week in connection with Independence Day celebrations.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that Kaepernick contacted Nike officials and told them that he and others are offended by the flag because it dates to the late 18th century, a period of widespread slavery in the United States.
This is all too contrived and is perfect for susceptible people to fall for during a week that would otherwise be quiet while people are on vacation, just trying to relax & recharge the batteries. It’s the perfect target week for a free media play.
Let’s think about this a minute:
• Colin Kaepernick is a Nike paid endorser, influencer, etc., etc. — PAID
• Am I supposed to believe Nike’s obviously woke creative team — have you met an art team that isn’t woke these days or ever? — didn’t contact Kaep’s team to talk about a patriotic shoe? I’m to believe that Nike didn’t do any research and didn’t know the Ross flag “has reportedly been adopted by some white nationalists and other groups that object to America’s growing racial diversity” even though all it would take is a Google search to see there was already Betsy-troversies back in 2016.
• Word drops June 24 that the shoes are coming out and go on sale July 1.
— Sneaker News (@SneakerNews) June 25, 2019
• July 2 — perfectly positioned on a Monday to own the slow news cycle — we learn that Kaepernick is offended, via the Wall Street Journal. That sends the blue checkmarks on both sides of the political spectrum into an outraged frenzy spreading the news sending Nike to the top trending term in the world.
• Think about this for a minute — what’s the worst thing to come out of this for Nike? The MAGA crowd already hated Nike; the woke crowd already loved Nike for hiring Kaepernick. Nike now has to completely cater to the woke crowd and by having Kaepernick coming to the rescue it makes the woke crowd love him even more, and since Nike is paying him, Woke America isn’t going to attack Nike over this. It’s just going to make them rally even more. Nike’s just going to stay quiet on why they were going to release the shoes in the first place while everyone fights it out this week & the networks feature the controversy at the top of their broadcasts.
As consumers are roiled by Facebook fights and riven by mistrust in Donald Trump’s America, corporations have confronted the old question – of how to move product – with sometimes experimental answers, analysts say, and deeply mixed results.
“More and more, consumers are looking for brands that stand for something and take a position, so that they can make a decision for themselves if that represents their identity and their values,” said Todd Fischer, a senior vice-president at GMR Marketing, a global agency. “Brands have been pulled deeper into the conversation.”
• The controversy eventually makes its way to Facebook where middle America loses its mind, keeps it going and never forgets it. Offended White America burns its remaining Nike gear and attack like wild dogs in local news Facebook threads.
• By next week this controversy is gone and Nike cleans up on earned media without spending a penny. They use a symbol on a shoe to control the narrative for a week and don’t even have to put Kaepernick on billboards or release Just Do It commercials. This is free media 101.
Conclusion: now we’re going to get a tweet from Trump at some point today or tomorrow and then it’s going to send both sides into another frenzy. And on and on and on we go as people can’t figure out they’re being played for bottom lines.