Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
It’s a bad time for bad sneakers.
The failing company tried to turn around its poor sales by doubling down on its abrasive lefty politics. Nike’s Consumer Direct Offense was supposed to stand for reclaiming American market share, instead of directly offending consumers. But if Nike can’t sell its shoddy athletic wear, it can offend Americans.
Last winter, Nike unveiled the “Pro Hijab”. Now it decided to make Colin Kaepernick, the racist black nationalist who began the trend of protesting the national anthem, into the face of its Just Do It campaign. Nike’s new contract with its America-hating racist will rush out Kaepernick shoes and jerseys. No word on whether Kaepernick’s socks showing police officers as pigs will also be part of the package.
Nike will pay Kaepernick millions every year with a deal that looks like those of “top-end” NFL players. Actually being a top-end player or having the talent to be one is surplus to social justice requirements.
The huge payday for Kaepernick clashes with Just Do It’s new tagline, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Making millions of dollars for hating America without having to ever get out there and play is the opposite of “sacrificing everything.” It’s getting paid for doing nothing.
Unlike the hundreds of women working in a Cambodian factory that supplies Nike (among other companies) who passed out as temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Over three days, 360 female workers passed out after working ten hour days with little food at punishing temperatures.
Nike’s Code of Conduct allows girls as young as 16 to work in factories. But they may be even younger.
At one Nike supplier, “workers routinely collapsing unconscious at their work stations from overwork and excessive heat, then being forced to return to work minutes after waking up” were observed.
Just don’t pass out.
Nike’s Asian slave labor force actually sacrifices everything. And the proceeds go to Nike executives and millionaire racists like Kaepernick who invoke the historical memory of slavery even as they profit from real life slavery. Kaepernick had compared the police to runaway slave patrols and his latest NFL deal fell through after his girlfriend had compared the owner of the Baltimore Ravens to a slave master.
But the truth about slavery can be found in Colin Kaepernick making millions from Nike slave labor.
Nike’s embrace of Kaepernick marks its transition away from sports and into social justice. It’s the same trajectory that crumbled ESPN and the NFL’s core business. And it’s not doing wonders for Nike.
Its post-inauguration Grammy’s ad already took a dip into anti-American waters, demanding, "Is this the land history promised?" The bizarre spectacle of millionaire athletes lecturing a working class audience about equality and racism didn’t do anything for Nike’s brand or its sales. But it also foreshadowed its Kaepernick deal with its transparently fake efforts to glamorize millionaire athletes as civil rights figures.
And athletic wear made by sweatshop workers as the costume of civil rights heroes.
“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” Nike's VP of Brand Marketing Gino Fisanotti told ESPN.
Colin Kaepernick is to sports what Nike is to conscious workers. Gino is signaling that Nike, like ESPN, is more interested in leftist politics, moving the “world forward”, than in any of that yucky sports stuff.
But unlike the NFL and ESPN, Nike really isn’t in the sports business. It glamorized athleisure wear by making the illusion of sports performance accessible to everyone. But the brand is becoming dated. Nike retailer demand fell by 10% and it was forced to fire 1,400 employees. Adidas’ Superstar sneakers outsold Nike’s fading Jordan brand kicking the swoosh company out of the top spot for the first time in a decade. Adidas sneakers rely on the celebrity power of Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.
Nike’s Kaepernick deal is a shift away from sports stars to pop culture social justice stars. Adidas may have Kanye West, but Nike has Colin Kaepernick. Making a black nationalist icon into the face of its Just Do It campaign also conveys the fact that Nike isn’t really selling sports performance, but lefty celebs.
Just Do It rolled out thirty years ago with Walt Stack: an 80-year-old who made a point of running 17 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Now Nike has severed athletic performance from its brand which will instead embody the “courage” of lefty politics rather than physical perseverance.
It’s been 15 years since fans have seen Michael Jordan play. An entire generation has come of age for whom Air Jordan is a brand that’s disconnected from an actual person. Nike has decided that a lefty political celebrity may be a safer investment for millennials than the greatest basketball player of all time. It’s going to try and catch Adidas by turning Just Do It into a leftist revolutionary slogan.
Nike has been battling slave labor charges with fake virtue signaling for a generation.
Last year, Nike’s Mark Parker had declared that President Trump’s terror travel ban was a threat to Nike’s values, "Nike believes in a world where everyone celebrates the power of diversity."
A world where everyone believes the same thing is as diverse as a bunch of people wearing Nikes.
Much like Hollywood, sneaker sales in China matter more than they do in the United States. Nike has been declining in North America, but growing in China. And even in the American market, Nike is more concerned about the collegiate market, with its touchy lefty politics, than mainstream consumers. Its college contracts run well into the hundreds of millions. Those matter much more than Americans.
30 years after the launch of Just Do It, Nike’s ideal target audience has shifted dramatically. Nike has rightly calculated that the illusion of the athletic ideal has been eclipsed by political agendas. It’s trying to sell overpriced shoes to the sort of virtue signaling thirty-something suburbanites who decorate their barren front yards with placards reading, “In This House Black Lives Matter and We Believe in Science.”
Owning Nike shoes used to signal pretentions to fitness, now it’s meant to signal pretensions to activism. Everyone can’t change the world. But everyone can buy two hundred dollar shoes assembled by teenage girls on the verge of passing out in hundred degree heat to show off their commitment to social justice. And what better spokesman for that fake farce could there be than Colin Kaepernick?