A new Nike ad features Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who sparked controversy by kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, will be the face of a Nike advertising campaign for the 30th anniversary of its ‘Just do It’ motto. The ad features Kaepernick, the Nike logo and “just do it” slogan as well as the quote: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
You can be certain of Nike’s intends to profit financially from this ad. They are calculating that Kaepernick’s fame will exceed the money he is being paid. Nike is an “calculated company – They’ve never known their customer better.” “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” Nike executive Gino Fisanotti told ESPN. “We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes.”
The appeal is to young men searching for a cause and identity. Nike sees Kaepernick as an icon of resistance. Jemele Hill notes, “He represents the very culture that Nike wants to continue to monetize” His style of rebelliousness and outspokenness is an activism that has become a powerful brand. Nike’s best customers are active, high-earning young people, who give 62% approval to protests during the national anthem. Lynde Langdon astutely observed, “Nike has just leveraged some of the strongest emotions of its most valuable customers in its favor.”
I do not want to take sides regarding kneeling during the National Anthem at NFL games. But I do wonder how the ad will, “help move the world forward.” I want to use the Kaepernick ad as a “trumpet call” for wild men to help move forward under the Lordship of King Jesus. The wording of the slogan lends itself to various interpretations. Here is mine.
First the word “Just.” Just is an adjective for behavior that is morally right and fair. It can mean to act “now.” “Just” is an urgent call for men to join King Jesus in furthering his kingdom reign in the earth. The call is urgent for courageous men to fight in the spiritual battle between good and evil (Eph. 6:10-11). This is the ultimate battle.
Secondly, the word “do.” This is a call for men to take the initative by leading a life of godliness. Our nation is filled with passive young men, who are void of meaning and purpose. King Jesus invites men to give their whole life to kingdom living. He is asking men to “be all in.”
Thirdly, the word “it.” What exactly does “it” mean? It can mean anything. That is the problem. Men need direction. What are they supposed to do. The gospel is clear. We are to pray and act upon – “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10).
A word about the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” For what are men willing to make sacrifice? Who is asking for the sacrifice? The King’s message is a clear and challenging. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life’ ( John 12:24-5). Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” ( Gal 2:20). Jesus invites a man to come and die for him. Are you ready for such a sacrifice?