- Nike is facing the heat from a California-based grassroots advocacy group, which is demanding that it end its support of President Donald Trump. Courage Campaign is circulating a petition calling for the sportswear brand to relocate its flagship Niketown store from New York City’s Trump Tower and end its financial support for Donald Trump. While it appears that the movement is slowly gaining steam online, it is unlikely to overtake Nike’s social conversation, said social analytics company Brandwatch.
Post Charlottesville, the anti-Trump sentiment is on the rise once again. And Nike is feeling some collateral damage.
Despite having nothing to do with President Donald Trump’s now disbanded councils, the company is taking heat from a California-based grassroots advocacy group, which is demanding that it end its “support” of President Donald Trump.
Courage Campaign is circulating a petition calling for the sportswear brand to relocate its flagship Niketown store from New York City’s Trump Tower and end its financial support for Donald Trump. The petition has been signed by more than 72,000 people.
“Nike is a brand that boasts constant displays of dedication to diversity and inclusion,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of Courage Campaign. “It is time for Nike to choose which side of history they will stand on and end their financial support for Trump and his companies. Anything less means that Nike is complicit in supporting Trump’s insidious and racist agenda.”
This is not the first time that Nike is facing the wrath of Courage Campaign. Last year too, the organization called on the company to sever ties with Trump after his 2005 Access Hollywood video where he spoke to Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women was leaked.
Nike ultimately signed a new lease with a non-Trump building nearby, but has not publicly commented on its plans for the current space in Trump Tower. Courage Campaign is renewing the effort, calling Nike’s continued association with Trump “completely unacceptable.”
Nike is not alone either. Brands are caught in somewhat of a catch-22 situation in today’s polarized climate. On one hand, they are expected to tap into the cultural zeitgeist to connect with consumers, while on the other, they must be wary of getting called out for taking positions that will end up alienating their audiences. Since Donald Trump took office, a number of brands including Under Armour, Kellogg’s, New Balance, Chobani and L.L. Bean have faced online outrage for being associated with him.
According to the Courage Campaign, Nike should follow what it did in 2016, when it immediately dropped Manny Pacquiao for his abhorrent remarks on same-sex couples and cut ties with Maria Sharapova right away after she announced that she failed a drug test. Business Insider reached out to Nike but has not received comment from the company yet.
It appears that the movement is slowly gaining steam online.
Nike has been mentioned more than a whopping 1.8 million times online in the past two weeks. While its overall sentiment during this time period is 89.2% positive, social mentions associating Nike with Trump have been on the rise since Wednesday, according to social analytics company, Brandwatch. There have been around 200 mentions of Nike associating it with the hashtag #DumpTrump so far, with 180 of those mentions occurring yesterday.
It is unlikely, however, that Nike’s social conversation will be consumed by outrage due to how large the conversation around the brand generally is, said Kellan Terry, PR brand analyst at Brandwatch. The same thing happened when Adidas sent out an email to marathoners titled, ‘You Survived the Boston Marathon,’ he said.
“While people were upset due to the insensitivity of the subject line, Adidas did everything right and apologized for the oversight,” he said. “So even though people shared their unfavorable sentiments on social media, Adidas’ conversation was so huge, the backlash was negligible.”
It’s also worth noting that Grab Your Wallet, another organization that has been at the forefront of leading boycotts against companies doing business with Trump, is not calling for the same against Nike.
“The athletic apparel company’s flagship Niketown store in New York City is located in a space owned by Trump, but as with other companies that lease from Trump, it’s acknowledged that the lease may have been signed prior to the election,” the group notes on its website. “In addition, the #GrabYourWallet boycott’s emphasis is on companies that realize a profit from doing business with the Trump family.”
But Courage Campaign argues that flagship stores like Niketown are crucial for companies, as they generate considerable foot traffic and high volumes of sales, while increasing the brand’s value and reputation through association with similar, or higher valued brands. Courage Capital’s petition claims that Nike currently leases the space for Niketown from Trump for $200 million.