When Nike announced that its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign would feature Colin Kaepernick, the social media response was explosive. Kaepernick is, after all, a politically controversial figure (at least to some). And Nike took a huge (and presumably calculated) risk featuring him in its campaign.
As background, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality. His gesture soon became a movement within the athletic arena, and has since been called unpatriotic by many (most notably, President Trump). And for his actions, Kaepernick has essentially been banned from the NFL.
President Trump was none too pleased with Nike’s ad campaign: calling it “a terrible message.” And Drew Brees even tweeted that he “agree[d] with his (Kaepernick’s) protest, [but] I DON’T agree w his METHOD.”
All of this has been widely reported. But what has been less widely reported is how Republican-leaning Nike and its senior employees are, which makes the company’s actions even more striking.
Our goal at Goods Unite Us is to get consumers the data, so that they can put their money where their vote is. So, if you’re a Republican that’s boycotting Nike, according to the data, perhaps you should reconsider. Or, if you’re a Democrat that’s flaunting new Air Jordan’s, perhaps you should switch to Adidas.
Where Does Nike Stand Politically?
We did some digging. And here are the hard facts about where Nike and its senior employees put their money:
- When all is said and done, since 2010, Nike and its senior employees have given more to Republicans than Democrats in federal elections.
- During the 2018 federal campaign cycle, for example, Nike and its senior employees gave 75% to Republicans and 25% to Democrats.
- Nike has its own PAC, and that PAC clearly plays both sides. For example, Nike’s PAC has supported Lamar Alexander (R., TN), Rob Portman (R., OH) and Orrin Hatch (R., UT), but has also supported Patrick Leahy (D., VT). You can see all of the donations Nike’s PAC has made here.
- Nike’s CEO, Mark Parker, has mostly given his donations through Nike’s PAC. But he did donate directly to Paul Ryan in 2017. On the whole, he’s donated more to Republicans than Democrats, and many of his Democrat donations have been focused on local Oregon candidates (Nike is headquartered in Oregon).
Does their controversial marketing stance reflect their politics? It certainly does not seem so. But now you can decide for yourself!