Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad is hurting its brand, poll suggests

Nike's new "Just Do It" ad with Colin Kaepernick hasn't aired yet, but one survey suggests that hearing about it is not going over well with U.S. consumers.

About 24 percent of consumers now say they view the brand unfavorably, up from 7 percent before the sports apparel giant revealed the former National Football League quarterback as the face of a new marketing campaign, according to research firm Morning Consult. 

Its favorable rating now stands at 60 percent, down from 76 percent before Nike hired Kaepernick, the survey found.

Nike's decision to bring on Kaepernick -- known for kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustice -- sparked calls for a boycott, while other consumers expressed support for the brand and its products. Some marketing experts said the controversy may ultimately prove beneficial for Nike in a climate where consumers expect companies to take political stands.

Even so, the Morning Consult survey, which is based on interviews with 1,694 adults before Nike announced the campaign and 5,481 adults afterwards, indicates Nike's controversial decision could dent sales. 

Before Nike's announcement, about half of Americans said they were absolutely certain or very likely to buy Nike products, but that percentage has dropped to 39 percent. Almost 1 in 3 adults say they're now unlikely to buy a Nike product, compared with more than 1 in 10 before Kaepernick was hired.

The impact of the ad on NFL viewership appears minimal, with 40 percent of consumers saying Nike's plans to debut the Kaepernick ad does not make them more or less likely to attend NFL games.

Twitter outrage

Separately, outrage over Nike's decision appears to be less heated than anger directed to other brands struggling with controversies, such as Starbucks, according to an analysis of tweets including the words "boycott" and "Nike" on Monday and Tuesday from research firm M Science.

M Science also found the latest boycott calls are mild in comparison to the outrage sparked last year by the NFL's decision to allow players to kneel during the national anthem.

Kaepernick started kneeling in 2016 to protest racism, police brutality and social injustice, with a handful of other players joining the effort by kneeling, locking arms or raising their fists as the national anthem played. 

An onslaught of critical tweets from President Trump has turned the protests into a political battle, with the NFL -- a major partner of Nike -- stuck in the middle. The league is also being sued by Kaepernick, who contends its 32 teams colluded in not offering him a contract due to his activism.

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