Nike almost dropped Kaepernick before making him face of new ad campaign: report

Nike almost dropped Kaepernick before making him face of new ad campaign: report

Nike was reportedly close to cutting ties with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2017, a year before the company drew widespread attention for making him the face of its new ad campaign. 

The New York Times, citing two people familiar with the deliberations, reported Wednesday that Nike's top marketing officials debated whether they should continue to sponsor Kaepernick in the summer of 2017. 

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The Times reported that the company, whose relationship with Kaepernick started in 2011, struggled with how to handle Kaepernick's contract after he left the 49ers to become a free agent. Kaepernick became a controversial figure following his decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality toward black people.

But, according to the Times, a top communications executive in the company persuaded Nike to keep Kaepernick signed over the possibility that cutting ties with him could engender negative publicity. 

The Times notes that the company decided backing Kaepernick was a wise business decision, despite anger he had attracted from figures such as President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE and his base.

“It would be normal for a number of people to offer different perspectives.” KeJuan Wilkins, a spokesman for Nike, said in an email to the newspaper. “In keeping with Nike’s mission, any final decisions are made as a group.”

The news regarding the potential severing of ties between Nike and Kaepernick comes only weeks after the company revealed him as the face of its newest "Just Do It" ad campaign. 

Kaepernick posted an image of the advertisement on social media on Sept. 3 to promote the campaign.

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” the message on the ad states. 

While the move generated backlash from Kaepernick's critics, including the president, it also drew praise from many and ultimately led to increased sales for Nike. Nike CEO Mark Parker said the sportswear brand has seen "record engagement” since announcing the campaign with Kaepernick.

The company said in an earnings call Tuesday that its revenue was up 9 percent to $9.9 billion during a period that ran until Aug. 31, according to ESPN.

Nike’s stock has reportedly risen 6.25 percent since it announced the deal with Kaepernick.