Business / Corporate

Nike shares hit record high after ads with racism protester Colin Kaepernick are unveiled


Nike shares have reached an all-time high and online sales have improved following the sporting goods giant’s envelope-pushing ad campaign featuring controversial football quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Nike, a member of the blue-chip Dow index, finished at $83.47 on Thursday, its highest-ever closing price, prompting applause on Twitter from basketball star and self-professed “#NikeLifer” LeBron James. Shares of Nike rose again on Friday, closing slightly up at $83.49, but then fell 25 cents in after-hours trading.

The record came 10 days after Nike unveiled a sweeping “Just Do It” marketing blitz featuring Kaepernick, who has been effectively blacklisted from the National Football League after kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism in law enforcement.

The Kaepernick campaign prompted some consumers to take to social media to destroy their Nike gear and provoked criticism from President Donald Trump, among others.

But many marketers have described the ads as a savvy bet on higher sales from millennials and nonwhite consumers, an idea that has been supported by some data since the Kaepernick spots were unveiled.

Online sales for Nike rose 31 percent from the Sunday to Tuesday over the Sept. 3 Labor Day holiday weekend, when the Kaepernick ad went viral after being teased on social media on the night of Labor Day, a Monday.

That is better than the 17 percent rise over the same period in 2017, according to data from Edison Trends.

Over the course of the six days ending Sept. 9, Nike’s online sales dipped 9 percent, but that was smaller than the 32 percent fall experienced over the same stretch in 2017.

“There was speculation that the Nike/Kaepernick campaign would lead to a drop in sales but the data does not support that theory,” Edison Trends said through a spokesman.

The Edison data showed a rise in Nike online sales in some more politically progressive states, such as Maryland and New Jersey, while Nike sales fell sharply in some of the more conservative states, including Idaho and Wyoming.