Nike boycott: Parks and recreation department banned from using brand over Kaepernick advert

Mayor of Louisana city orders staff not to purchase from company in wake of controversy

Tom Barnes
Monday 10 September 2018 13:28 BST
Nike advert 'Dream Crazy' features Colin Kaepernick

A US city has banned its parks and recreation department from purchasing Nike equipment after the sportswear giant launched a new ad campaign featuring controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Local government staff in Kenner, Louisiana, were told of new rules last week, introduced in an apparent response to the brand’s use of the former NFL star in commercials.

In a memo sent to the Kenner’s parks and recreation director, mayor Ben Zahn demanded none of the city’s $125,000 (£97,000) leisure supplies budget be spent on Nike products.

He also insisted booster clubs, parent-run organisations that raise funds for school sports teams, must seek approval from the department before purchasing items from the company if they use public facilities.

“Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility,” the mayor added in the memo.

Some conservatives called for a boycott of Nike over its decision to feature Kaepernick in advertising due to his protests of the US national anthem before games.

The former San Francisco 49ers star started demonstrations later joined by more than 200 NFL players by taking a knee during Star Spangled Banner to draw attention to police violence against minorities and racial inequality.

Among Kaepernick’s critics was Donald Trump, who said players protesting should be “fired”. The president has since said he disagrees with Nike’s decision to use the athlete in marketing.

However, Kaepernick, who has not played professionally since 2016, has also been widely praised for his actions, winning support from thousands of fans and being named GQ magazine’s “Citizen of the Year”.

The Keller mayor’s decision to ban Nike products being bought by the city does not appear to have universal support among local politicians.

City councilman, Gregory Carroll, described Mr Zahn’s memo as “disturbing”, adding he would work to oppose it.

“I was not made aware of this decision beforehand and it is in direct contradiction of what I stand for and what the City of Kenner should stand for. I am 100% AGAINST this decision,” Mr Carroll said in a statement on Facebook.

“I will meet with the Mayor and other Council members in an effort to rescind this directive. I will keep the citizens of Kenner, and the Greater New Orleans area informed as we move forward.”

Nike first released billboard adverts featuring Kaepernick on Labor Day, which were emblazoned the slogan: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

A television commercial followed several days later, with the player prominently placed alongside other athletes including Serena Williams and LeBron James.

NFL protests: Celebrities 'take a knee' in solidarity against Donald Trump

The ad has been praised by the likes of Tiger Woods, who described it as “something special”.

The gamble of using a controversial figure in its advertising appears to have paid off for Nike, which saw its online sales surge by 31 per cent in the days following the campaign launch.

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