Nike-Colin Kaepernick poll shows upside of polarizing approach NFL declines to take

Polling data shows that people are moving toward and away from Nike in similar numbers as the company garners better ratings than the NFL or Donald Trump. (AP)
Polling data shows that people are moving toward and away from Nike in similar numbers as the company garners better ratings than the NFL or Donald Trump. (AP)

Nike knew the risks involved of pinning its latest ad campaign on Colin Kaepernick, one of the most polarizing figures in American culture.

New polling data released Tuesday shows that the move came with expected backlash while demonstrating the upside of targeting a younger, progressive demographic.

Poll: Nike’s risk ‘seems to have worked’

A Harris Poll of 2,026 Americans released on ESPN shows that Nike, a brand historically known for campaigns that were compelling while maintaining broad appeal, has seen similar moves in perception on positive and negative fronts since announcing the Kaepernick campaign.

Twenty-one percent of poll respondents said that they would stop buying Nike while 19 percent said they would buy more because of the Kaepernick association. Of the young males polled, 29 percent responded that they would buy more.

“Nike took a strategic risk to alienate some customers in order to appeal to their core base of 18- to 29-year old males,” Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema told ESPN. “It was a calculated move to become a more polarizing brand, and it seems to have worked.”

Poll: More people view Nike negatively now

The data was compared to a similar December 2017 poll, which demonstrates the downside of Nike’s new campaign. While almost nobody had a negative view of Nike prior to the Kaepernick campaign according to ESPN, 17 percent of respondents in the latest poll now view Nike negatively.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people who said they couldn’t imagine living without Nike dropped from 33 percent to 24 percent.

In short, Nike has determined that the upside of targeting its younger demographic outweighs the downside of alienating older, more conservative consumers, with early polling data supporting that approach.

Poll: Nike fares better than NFL, Trump in perception

Nike’s approach is one the NFL, which is largely run by older, wealthy white men, has chosen not to take in responding to players choosing to protest social justice issues during the national anthem.

The Harris Poll touched on that data too, and Nike came out favorably compared to the NFL and President Donald Trump. ESPN reports that 25 percent of respondents viewed the NFL’s handling of players’ social justice protests in a positive light, while 30 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s response.

Nike’s response to the same issue garnered a 42 percent positive rating from poll respondents.

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