This is a really interesting story about Nike’s sponsorship deal with Colin Kaepernick and the winding road that led to their new campaign.
It’s a striking example of how much ads still matter, as a cultural influencer and as a design medium. They’re still a lightening rod for the conflicting motivations of politics, money, principles, and ideas. When those forces converge in the right ways, advertising is still a powerful platform.
To be honest, this story kind of sums up everything I love and hate about the industry. Props to Wieden & Kennedy and Nike for having the spine to stand behind Colin Kaepernick in the end1 – although, as with all things advertising, it’s hard to tell what their real motivations were. Because it was the right thing to do? Or because it might be profitable? Or (most likely) both? A funny thing about the industry is that, much of the time, it seems impossible to tell the difference between integrity and opportunism. But it’s often this naked opportunism that keeps the advertising industry oddly "honest"; it keeps us off the high horses. And when there’s a chance to say something true, it shines all the more brightly.
Or should I say kneel behind him? ↩