Amid the controversy surrounding Nike’s ad campaign focused on Colin Kaepernick, we’ve been treated to something of a deluge of military veterans and associated patriots who, as Green Beret Tim Kennedy put it, “are livid” about the decision by the company to sponsor a former NFL player who ostensibly disrespects our flag and our troops.
It is worth commenting for a moment on how politics has seeped into every aspect of our lives. Today, there are no safe spaces as every hobby and leisure activity is now an open free-for-all for political activism. Back when I was a kid it was controversial that Dennis Rodman had neon colored hair. Today ESPN has become a non-stop stream of political commentary. As we all know — to a painful degree — outrage sells.
Nike surely knew this from the get-go, their campaign is a deliberate outrage strategy to attract attention to their brand. Corporations and their public relations people identify pre-existing trends in popular culture and hijack them for their advertisements. I was recently walking around the streets of Milan, Italy and chuckled as I saw storefront windows for high end fashion labels displaying banners behind their clothes that advocated for women’s rights.
The banners were designed to look like some Antifa activist had painted them up in their mom’s basement before a protest march, but of course this was the look intended by a corporate strategy. I seriously doubt high end fashion brands or the people who buy them care about these political causes in any substantial way, but it is the image they are going for.