John Steigerwald: In listening to Kaepernick, Nike shows its values are misplaced
Colin Kaepernick lit a cherry bomb two days before Independence Day and disturbed what had been a pretty quiet beginning of the summer, if you don’t count the stupidity surrounding the U.S. women’s soccer team.
Kaepernick, who apparently majored in revisionist history at Nevada, decided to be offended by Nike’s use of the Betsy Ross flag on the back of a pair of shoes that were to be released around the Fourth of July.
He had apparently done a survey and found out that lots of revisionists had come to believe the flag was offensive “because of its connection to an era of slavery.”
Nike, instead of hanging up on Kaepernick and having a good laugh, immediately took the shoes off the market.
Most sane people wonder why Nike has a polarizing ignoramus like Kaepernick as a spokesman in the first place and can’t understand how taking a divisive political stance could be good for business.
David E. Johnston, CEO of Strategic Vision PR, is here to explain: “They know what they’re doing. (Kaepernick) appeals to the millennials. That’s what Nike is all about.”
And what are millennial athletic shoe buyers all about?
“They don’t care about the price. They don’t care about the quality of the product. The No. 1 thing that they look for when they select a brand is does this company make me feel good.”
Maybe you’re not a millennial and your No. 1 thing when you buy shoes is do they make your feet feel good.
And maybe you don’t care if the company that made the shoes shares your values as long as they feel good on your feet.
That’s because you’re old.
Johnston says most CEOs are older men who still focus only on profit, and they’re being advised by millennials who tell them it’s all about social media and the number of followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook.
The CEOs are buying it.
And, according to Johnston, “Businesses are scared of the mob, even though it’s a minority. To me, it’s fools’ gold. It might work short term. It won’t work long term.”
What it won’t do is make it any more likely that Kaepernick will find a job in the NFL. NFL owners like profit, and they’re not going to bring him and his media circus into town to be a backup quarterback in hopes that it might produce some really good tweets and make the millennials feel good.
But why would Kaepernick or any other player offended by the Betsy Ross flag want to wear an NFL uniform?
It banned blacks for the first 13 years of its existence.
Do all Major League Baseball uniforms represent the racism and racists who refused to allow blacks to play for half a century?
Or have the leagues acknowledged their mistakes and moved on?
As for me, I won’t be buying Nike shoes for a while. I don’t like the way they make me feel.
*Too many people made too much of an issue of U.S. women’s soccer player Alex Morgan celebrating after scoring against England by pretending to drink a cup of tea, but her responding by saying no one criticizes the men when they celebrate was worse.
The NFL and NCAA penalize players for taunting and over-celebrating all the time.
Of course, it could have been worse. She could have started a game of hide and seek like Antonio Brown or pretended to give birth to a soccer ball like JuJu Smith-Schuster.
John Steigerwald is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.