When Nike announced its newest advertisement, which aired on September 6, featuring a Colin Kaepernick voice over, the public went crazy. Many were not happy that Kaepernick, who started the trend of athletes kneeling during the national anthem, was being given a public platform to speak, and possibly promote his actions. The naysayers are, however, forgetting a few key factors as to why Nike would pursue this advertisement.
The biggest factor is Nike’s sense of social responsibility, which is not well developed. In simple terms, social responsibility is like a code of conduct between an individual and society that tells how the person believes that one should act as a unit of the society it contributes to.
Nike has refused to uphold those standards with their influencers. That’s where I draw the line. “Business Insider” writer Max Nilsen summarized my opinion on this situation in his 2013 article “How Nike Solved its Sweatshop Problem”.
“Transparency doesn’t change ongoing reports of abuses, still-low wages, or tragedies like the one in Bangladesh.” This situation may not be related to sweatshops, but no matter how transparent a company is with the public, there is no way to change reports of unattended issues. Nike has faced issues like this since 1996’s Eric Cantona situation, yet they kept him on board.
For these reasons my “unpopular” opinion is that Nike needs to put more effort into social responsibility and ethics. As a Business major, I find it to be irritating when mainstream brands fail to uphold the values of the consumers, even if this failure draws more customers to small businesses.
I understand that a veteran wrote a letter to Kaepernick suggesting that he kneel during the national anthem, as opposed to sitting on the bench, I understand that he feels that the American flag oppresses the minority that he belongs to, but I don’t think that Nike should be utilizing Kaepernick as an influencer.
I was struggling to understand why many of the people I follow on various social media platforms had chosen to convert to only fair-trade fashion. I get it now, there aren’t issues like this with those brands, in fact, many employ women who are survivors of horrible incidents. Nike is wagering on the younger demographics of the country purchasing its products and the truth may be that those younger demographics do continue to purchase those products, not because they choose to go against social responsibility and ethical behaviors, but because they are unaware of the importance of being an educated consumer.
Overall, I believe that we need to push brands to uphold socially responsible and ethical values.
I think that it’s time we put a bit more of a good faith effort into supporting small businesses and show big name brands that we, as consumers, will stand for what we believe in. It’s also time that we educate our children and grandchildren about the importance of being an educated consumer and knowing the importance of social responsibility and ethics. If we don’t educate about these key factors, we risk having more scandals in the future.
Rachel Lyons is a Newton freshman studying business administration