Nike courts controversy with Kaepernick ad

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- He may not be in the NFL anymore, but Colin Kaepernick is sparking new controversy.

The former 49ers quarterback is the new face of Nike's ad campaign, and because he was the first player to kneel during the National Anthem, a lot of people aren't happy. Some are even going as far as to burn their Nike merchandise.

Nike has courted controversy for years. One such ad is Charles Barkley saying "I am not a role model". Now, Nike is featuring the most controversial man in pro football.

The ad that features Kaepernick says "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."

It appears Nike is embracing Kaepernick's polarizing persona.

"You know, it seems a little shocking," said Bob Case with Lavidge Advertising. "He is a divisive figure, but when you think about it from Nike's perspective, he does fit into where they came from, so into that underdog mentality or spirit as a campaign for the 30th anniversary, he does fit."

Some people, like Deven Hallen of Gilbert, are so unhappy about the Kaepernick ad, they're burning their Nike shoes.

"I used to be a true believer in wearing Nike shoes with some bad ankles, but new ones are in the fire pit. Don't need those anymore. We will just get rid of those," said Hallen.

Nike may lose some customers like Hallen, but the company seems to have made the calculation that wading into the controversy is good business.

"Because they have set this up as a campaign, it can end or move on," said Case. "If it doesn't play out, they just move on."

Meanwhile, some other people wearing Nike shoes say they'll keep on wearing them.

Nike stock fell after the ad made its debut, but it's a worldwide brand targeting young people. The company is betting that courting controversy is the right thing to do, and will pay off in the long run.

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