US mayor bans Nike products in leaked memo after Kaepernick endorsement

By @chelean on
Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick appears as a face of Nike Inc advertisement
Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick appears as a face of Nike Inc advertisement marking the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It" slogan in this image released by Nike in Beaverton, Oregon, U.S., September 4, 2018. Courtesy Nike/Handout via Reuters

A US mayor has allegedly banned Nike products at his city’s recreational facility amid the hullabaloo on football player Colin Kaepernick’s new role as the athletic apparel’s new spokesperson. Meanwhile, Nike’s sales jumped by 31 percent despite threats of boycott.

According to a leaked memorandum sent by Kenner mayor Ben Zahn III to staff, any Nike product will no longer be purchased at the Louisiana city’s recreational facility. Any apparel, shoes, equipment and athletic purchase must also be approved by the Director of Parks and Recreation.

“Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility,” the memorandum signed by Zahn III reads (via USA Today).

Zahn III has explained that his goal was “only to protect taxpayer dollars from being used in a political campaign.” He said he drew the line on letting companies profit from taxpayers by espousing their political beliefs.

“My decision disallowing Nike from profiting from our taxpayers while they are using their powerful voice as a political tool is my message,” he was quoted by USA Today as saying. “The government will not let taxpayer dollars be used to promote a company’s or individual’s political position, platform or principle. That’s my position as a matter of fairness to all.”

Zahn was referring to Nike appearing to take a side after hiring Kaepernick as one of its spokesperson for its 30th anniversary ad campaign. Kaepernick has become a polarising figure since kneeling during the US national anthem at NFL games in 2016. The gesture was to support the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests the killing of black Americans by members of the police force.

Colin Kaepernick appears as a face of Nike Inc advertisement Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick appears as a face of Nike Inc advertisement pictured on top of a building in San Francisco, California, U.S. September 5, 2018.  Reuters/Alexandria Sage

Zahn’s position on the matter appeared to be evident as well when he was caught on video criticising those who do not stand for the national anthem last week. He was speaking at a festival when he declared that the city of Kenner chooses to stand during the national anthem.

Nike sales up

Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick in both its print and video ad campaigns has divided consumers, with some cheering on the multinational corporation’s apparently brave stance. There were those, however, who chose to boycott the company, with some consumers even setting their Nike products alight. US President Donald Trump even joined in, claiming that Nike was “getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.”

Nike A man lights a candle, as he reacts to Nike's decision to have Colin Kaepernick as the new face of their advertising campaign in Wichita, Kansas, U.S., September 3, 2018, in this still image from video obtained from social media.  Courtesy @COACHTROTTER81/via Reuters

According to data from Edison Trends, however, the threats of boycott or even the president’s tweet did not affect the brand at all. On the contrary, enraging some of the country’s population has been good for its business. Online sales of Nike products surged 31 percent after Kaepernick’s ad was published.

“Nike is a company that is focused on younger generations and expanding their market,” Hetal Pandya, co-founder of Edison Trends, has been quoted by NBC as saying. “This ad did that for them.”

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