Nike’s new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling demonstration during the national anthem started a controversy that engulfed the NFL last season and drew the ire of President Donald Trump, has cost it its relationship with at least two small colleges.
Truett McConnell University, a liberal arts school with about 2,600 students in the northern Georgia town of Cleveland, will no longer offer Nike products in its campus store. And athletic teams at the College of the Ozarks, a liberal arts college with about 1,500 students in Point Lookout, in southwest Missouri, will no longer wear Nike gear, with the volleyball team switching to gray T-shirts until replacement clothes arrived.
Nike’s campaign, featuring Kaepernick’s message of “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” debuted last week. The company’s stock dipped the following day, amid images of people destroying Nike gear in protest of the company’s association with Kaepernick. But online sales spiked in the days after the ad was released, according to Edison Trends, and on Tuesday, the company’s stock price closed higher than it had been before the campaign’s release.
TMU made the decision, according to a statement by the school, partly because Kaepernick “mocks our troops.” The anthem demonstration by Kaepernick and other NFL players was meant to raise awareness of police brutality and social injustice, and the demonstrating players say that their gesture had nothing to do with the military.
Hiring Kaepernick, “a person known for wearing pigs on his socks, mocking law enforcement, kneeling against our flag, and mocking our troops, is reprehensible to my family and to the Truett McConnell family,” TMU President Emir Caner said in a statement last week.
The College of the Ozarks announced last week that it would “choose its country over the company,” following a theme from last year, when the school announced it would walk away if an opposing team took a knee, sat or turned its back on the flag or during the anthem.