Nike’s popularity dropped 34% as Gen Z rejects Kaepernick ad

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 05: A billboard featuring former San Francisco 49ers quaterback Colin Kaepernick is displayed on the roof of the Nike Store on September 5, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Nike launched an ad campaign to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its iconic "Just Do It' motto that features controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a message that says "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


Nike’s popularity dropped 34% after launching its new ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick, which suggests Nike miscalculated the general political leanings of Generation Z.

When the apparel giant announced it was launching an ad campaign with the embattled ex-49er turned political activist, analysts suggested that Nike must have calculated the blowback and decided it wouldn’t hit its bottom line significantly.

But now a new poll says Nike’s public popularity dropped 34% since the deal was announced, meaning that Nike’s projections could have been off just like the projections that claimed Hillary Clinton had a 99% chance of winning the White House.

According to the poll by Morning Consult:

  1. Nike’s Favorability Drops by Double Digits: Before the announcement, Nike had a net +69 favorable impression among consumers, it has now declined 34 points to +35 favorable.
  2. No Boost Among Key Demos: Among younger generations, Nike users, African Americans, and other key demographics, Nike’s favorability declined rather than improved.
  3. Purchasing Consideration Also Down: Before the announcement, 49 percent of Americans said they were absolutely certain or very likely to buy Nike products. That figure is down to 39 percent now.
  4. The Effect on the NFL Seems Small, For Now: Forty percent of consumers said Nike’s campaign does not make them more or less likely to watch/attend NFL games — 21 percent said more likely and 26 percent said less likely (14 percent didn’t know).

What’s amazing is that Nike seems to have downplayed the effect last year’s “take a knee” protests” had on NFL ratings – but, shockingly, that might not the driving factor.

One analyst suggested Nike felt that “young affluents” who “lean progressive” would overcome the loss of business from old “red state” consumers, but there may be another, unaccounted factor at play: Generation Z, which consist of those born after millennials, leans far more conservative and libertarian in general than previous generations.

In short, number two on the list above might be the key factor.

“According to research, Gen Z is more individualistic, more conservative both socially and fiscally, and they’re already making waves of impact on our political system,” wrote one Forbes writer. “Gen Z, those born in 1995 or later, is possibly the most conservative generation since World War II, and it is worrying that their impact has been completely overlooked during this election.”

Did Nike overlook the impact of Gen Z, too? It seems likely, according to the poll.

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