In this Nike ad from 2018, former NFL football player Colin Kaepernick narrates through voice over what it means to dream while also confronting those “non-believers” who might hold you back, marginalize you, and not see your full potential. The ad was produced two years after Kaepernick famously took a knee and refused to stand for the national anthem during a 2016 game when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick’s protest was meant to call attention to police brutality against African Americans, however despite his intentions, the act of taking a knee spurred controversy among those who viewed it as anti-patriotic. This ad gestures to Kaepernick’s protest and the subsequent controversy with the tag line, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Despite the fact that Kaepernick’s act was embraced by many other athletes, thought leaders, politicians, and activists, he faced repercussions when, as a free agent, he was not contracted to play for any NFL teams. The ad also spurred controversy with Nike stocks dropping briefly and consumers sharing anti-Nike posts on social media. In June 2020, shortly following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minnesota, the NFL changed its policy permitting players to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest.
Who are the dreamers in this ad? What is the value of overcoming adversity (according to the voice over and images)? In what ways is adversity represented and discussed in the ad? How might an athlete’s identity part of the diversity they face?
what is the value in overcoming adversity? in what ways is this represented in the ad? how is the athlete’s identity part of the adversity they face?
Why did Nike choose Colin Kaepernick to be their spokesperson for this ad? Do you think Nike anticipated the controversy that ensued?
The ad focuses on individuals and being “somebody,” while putting people into categories of believers and non-believers. Why is this perspective valuable for Nike? What does this focus on individuals leave out?
How is sacrifice (as evidenced by the tag line “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”) key to both the dreams of an athlete and the change sought by an activist or protestor?