By : Darren Rovell of ESPN
Nike is doubling down on its investment in Colin Kaepernick.
The world’s largest shoe and apparel brand, which got the attention of the world by utilizing the quarterback-turned-activist in advertisements published on social channels on Monday, is scheduled to debut a “Just Do It” commercial during the NFL’s regular-season opener featuring the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles on NBC on Thursday night.
The ad is voiced by Kaepernick and features him, along with NBA star LeBron James, tennis champion Serena Williams, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and skateboarder Lacey Baker, and inspirational athletes such as NFL linebacker Shaquem Griffin, wheelchair basketball player Megan Blunk, boxer Zeina Nassar and legless wrestler Isaiah Bird.
Kaepernick tweeted the commercial Wednesday.
Kaepernick’s protests of racial injustice — which began in August 2016 with sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem — launched a movement across the NFL. No team signed him as a free agent in 2017 or 2018.
The Kaepernick ad revealed on Monday predictably polarized people, with some vowing to boycott Nike products.
Even on the Labor Day holiday, Nike dominated social media. There were 3.4 million mentions of Nike on Twitter in the first 21 hours after Kaepernick tweeted the initial ad, social media management tool Sprinklr said. The #JustDoIt hashtag had more than 400,000 mentions; #BoycottNike and #Nikeboycott combined to have garnered more than 120,000 mentions. Kaepernick had 1.5 million mentions over that time period, Sprinklr data revealed.
Kaepernick signed with Nike in 2011. Sources told ESPN that Nike kept the fact that Kaepernick would be involved in a future campaign from many key players internally and outside Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The company did not share the news ahead of time with the NFL, even though Kaepernick has a collusion lawsuit against the league’s owners. Nike recently signed a new multibillion dollar, 10-year deal to remain the official apparel supplier of the league.