New poll lends more evidence that Nike scored with Kaepernick ad

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Nike's Kaepernick ad
Nike's Kaepernick ad Credit: Nike

A new poll brings more evidence that Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad was not as risky as it might have seemed, at least from a business perspective. Quinnipiac University found that American voters approve Nike's decision to put the ex-San Francisco 49er in the ad by a 49 percent to 37 percent margin.

The poll, which surveyed 1,038 voters nationwide, revealed the strongest support for the Wieden & Kennedy ad among voters ages 18-34, with 67 percent expressing approval. Voters ages 65 and older disapprove the spot by a 46 percent to 39 percent margin. The findings echo other recent surveys showing that the ad has strong support among young people, a key demographic for Nike.

Quinnipiac also found that 67 percent of American voters feel that National Football League players have the right to protest by taking a knee during the national anthem. The protests, started by Kaepernick in 2016, are meant to bring attention to racial inequalities and police brutality.

But while the majority of those polled concede that players have the right to take a knee, voters are evenly split—47 percent to 47 percent—on whether they actually approve of the kneeling. That roughly matches the U.S. political divide. (In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by a 48 percent to 46 percent margin over Donald Trump, who of course won more electoral votes.)

The fact that Nike's ad won approval by 12-point margin suggests that the spot resonated enough creatively to overcome a deeper division on the anthem issue.

"Take a knee. It's your right, American voters tell NFL players. But many voters who agree with the right to protest, disagree with the actual protests," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement. "But as for putting Colin Kaepernick's name alongside the Nike swoosh, voters say, 'Just do it.'"

The poll also presents more evidence about the racial divide on the anthem issue, with 53 percent of white voters disapproving players taking a knee and 77 percent of black voters approving it. Hispanic voters are split evenly at 48 percent to 48 percent.

The Republican-Democrat divide is also stark, with 79 percent of Democrats approving the anthem kneeling and 89 percent of Republicans opposed.

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