If you have a world-class grievance– and Colin Kaepernick certainly does– what a godsend it must’ve been for him to get that call from Nike! (The endorsement relationship goes back at least 5 years.) No other company has the experience of conveying emotional uplift and inspirational stories than this sneaker giant.
In the early 90s, according to a Goldman Sachs report on retail sales in the athletic goods sector, Nike shoes were selling at full-retail almost 2/3 of the time. The nearest competitor was Fila. At 5%! Pure marketing genius and the billion-plus per year spending to go world-wide with it.
There is a dark side to that demand-creation juggernaut, however. I’d like Colin to listen to one Newark store owner describing his customers:
Most of the people in this store, their lives are shit; their homes in the projects are shit — and it’s not like they don’t know it. There’s no drop-in center around here anymore and no local place to go that they can think of as their own, so they come to my store. They buy these shoes just like other kinds of Americans buy fancy cars or a new suit. It’s all about trying to find some status in the world. But the truth is, I do get weary and worn down from it all. I’m always forced to face the fact that I make my money from poor people. A lot of them live on welfare. Sometimes a mother will come in here with a kid and the kid is dirty and poorly-dressed but the kid wants a…