Colin Kaepernick Nearly Dropped Before Nike’s Anniversary Ad

Colin Kaepernick Nearly Dropped Before Nike’s Anniversary Ad

Nike nearly ended its contract with Colin Kaepernick in the summer 2017 before moving this year to have the former quarterback play a prominent role in the brand’s 30th anniversary ad campaign, according to a report in the New York Times.

The report noted that Kaepernick had not been re-signed by the San Francisco 49ers at the end of the 2016 season and didn’t  land on another team. Keeping him on its roster risked diminishing its relationship with the NFL, of which Nike is a sponsor.

A debate ensued and Nike marketers decided to end the contract with Kaepernick, sources told the Time. But Nigel Powell, the longtime head of communications for Nike, “went ballistic” after learning of the decision, according to the report. Powell was concerned of the possible backlash Nike would face if it was seen supporting the NFL rather than Kaepernick.

Nike’s longtime ad agency Wieden and Kennedy pushed the company to make Kaepernick the face of its 30th anniversary “Dream Crazy” campaign, which was released on September 3.

KeJuan Wilkins, a Nike spokesperson, acknowledged to the Times that Nike had an internal debate about Kaepernick. He said, “It would be normal for a number of people to offer different perspectives. In keeping with Nike’s mission, any final decisions are made as a group.”