A friend wasn’t sure about the Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, he said this week. He spoke about exploitation of a dangerous, scary time in US history so that a massive company could shift more gear. He liked the message, admired Kaepernick, but there was something about it all that stuck in the craw. He would take a stand of sorts, he said. He would wear Converse instead of Nike. But Nike bought Converse in 2003. Nike sells billions of dollars of shoes and kit. It’s what it does. It pushes those sales through campaigns that invoke strong reactions, through advertising that is not blatantly about pushing a sale. Nike gambles with controversy, but it’s a calculated bet. People have burnt shoes. More people will buy shoes. Nike knows those cutting their logos off socks and torching their pairs of Air Max are not the biggest part of their market. Nike tells a good story, spinning yarns out of superstars who defied convention and shook the establishment. When it signed Tiger Woods b...

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