TURLOCK (CBS13) — A Nike ad campaign featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is sparking controversy in his hometown.
The Turlock-native took the lead in the fight against police brutality and racial injustice by refusing to stand as the national anthem played before NFL games. Initially, he sat, but after speaking with an Army Special Forces veteran, Kaepernick switched to kneeling as a form of respect.
Kaepernick hasn’t played in the league since 2016 but is now being featured in a Nike ad campaign marking the 30th anniversary of the company’s iconic “Just Do It” slogan. The image released was on social media on Monday and began appearing on billboards this week, just days before the NFL opens its season on Thursday.
There was a time when Turlock considered Colin Kaepernick as a genuine hero, but now people in his hometown call the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback a disgrace.
“Him taking a stance for police brutality is a good thing. However, the method or the way that he’s doing it, I do not agree with. There’s plenty of other athletes that stand up for many great causes that do it in more, better ways if you will,” said Ted Gaylord, who lives in Turlock.
Kaepernick’s recent deal with Nike has reignited the debate. The first image is a black and white photo of Kaepernick with the text “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
“I don’t think they should do that because he is really not supporting the teams or the people who support him,” said Frank Martinez, who lives in Turlock.
People have threatened to burn their Nike sneakers they’ve already purchased or cut the company’s slogan off their socks that they have already purchased in protest of the ad using #Nikeboycott.
Marketing professors say the backlash won’t have a huge impact on sales.
“In terms of negative response, kind of tiny right now, but also look at the reports coming in from today that Nike has had more than $40 million of free media because of this. That’s not a bad thing,” said Al Petrosky, a marketing professor at Stanislaus State
As part of the endorsement deal, Nike will produce Kaepernick apparel including shoes, T-shirts and will also donate to his Know Your Rights campaign. Some in Turlock say they will continue to support the athlete, his message of racial injustice and the new Nike ad.
“It’s a big standard to believe in something and be able to go through with that belief whether its whatever he believes in or whatever I believe and I stand for what I believe and yes I believe you should sacrifice everything for something you do believe in,” said Valentin Horta.
Kaepernick isn’t the only person featured in the campaign. Other athletes include Serena Williams and LeBron James.
Nike’s stock closed down $2.60 cents a share, or 3.16 percent to $79.60, but picked up 26 cents a share in after-hours trading. It’s up $26 a share in the past year.
Nike and the NFL signed an 8-year deal for team uniforms and apparel in March.