"Believe in something", says the Nike ad with a close-up of Kaepernick's face.
Among people ages 18 to 34, 44% supported Nike's decision to use Kaepernick, while 32% opposed it, according to an SSRS Omnibus poll provided exclusively to CNN. College president Jerry C. Davis stated, "If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them".
Players began kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality, but critics have said that it is disrespectful to the flag and veterans.
Drafting Kaepernick as a spokesman has more upside than downside risk for Nike, analysts say, because the company knows its customer base well. Olivier Vernon, who is injured, protested a year ago, as did new Giants safety Michael Thomas, who remained on his feet.
Kaepernick, who sparked years of debate and earned the ire of President Trump by kneeling during the national anthem, prompted yet more debate last week, as pundits argued the wisdom of Nike aligning its brand with the polarizing former NFL player.
If Vick had been featured in a similar Nike ad, it should have read something like this: "Believe in something". The company's sales online jumped 31% after it was released, according to one analysis by digital research firm Edison Trends.
While the campaign featuring Kaepernick angered many conservatives, some market analysts called it "a stroke of genius".
A Harris Poll of 2,026 Americans released on ESPN shows that Nike, a brand historically known for campaigns that were compelling while maintaining broad appeal, has seen similar moves in perception on positive and negative fronts since announcing the Kaepernick campaign. The rest were unsure.
Forty-nine percent of American voters support Kaepernick's appearance in the ads, while 37 percent disapprove.
Republicans oppose by 60-39 percent.
The poll was conducted by SSRS September 4 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,008 adults.
"Take a knee. It's your right, American voters tell National Football League players", Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll, said in a release. They were reached by landline or cellphone by a live interviewer.
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