Nike unveils Colin Kaepernick ad ahead of NFL regular season

Colin Kaepernick will not be on an NFL roster to start the season, or likely ever again. But his presence continues to have a reverberating effect, thanks to a new Nike ad released just three days before the regular season kicks off.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Nike has been paying Kaepernick for some time in the lead up to making him the face of the 30th anniversary of their universally known “Just Do It” slogan. This is a fascinating decision by Nike given their partnership with the NFL – Nike and the NFL signed an 8-year uniform extension to begin in 2020 when their current deal expires. Both the messaging and timing of Kaepernick’s ad are clearly at odds with the league’s ethos. Last week a judge denied the NFL’s efforts to receive a summary judgment in Kaepernick’s collusion case.

Nike is embroiled in its own litigation as two former female employees recently filed a lawsuit claiming pay discrimination. Perhaps in a damage control, Nike is clearly looking for a message that resonates with those that have been alienated. In addition to the Kaepernick ad, the company also released a powerful Serena Williams spot in recent days.

With its Kaepernick partnership, the company is clearly sending the message that sports and politics are and should be intertwined.