Nike's decision to make the American football player Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of its 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign is a bold, overtly political move, but also a shrewd - and consistent - commercial calculation. The quarterback became the emblem of a protest against US police brutality and racial injustice when, in 2016, he knelt during the national anthem before National Football League (NFL) games. His protest, subsequently picked up by other players, put him at odds with many NFL fans, team owners and, later, US President Donald Trump. Nike has not commented in detail on its decision to feature Kaepernick, whom it has sponsored since 2011. But this is already a branding landmark because the player, currently a free agent, will benefit from sponsorship and publicity even though he may never be signed again to play the sport he became known for. One US sports reporter tweeted that Kaepernick will have his own line of shoes, shirts and jerseys. Looked at through a wid...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.