What if Nike has a historian on the payroll? Perhaps they could have avoided the embarrassment that Megan Kate Nelson describes in her recent piece at The Washington Post. Here is a taste:
It was still early on March 30 when historian Amy Kohout began scrolling through her Instagram feed. An image caught her eye: an ad by Nike promoting its new line of Trail Running gear, which launched this month. It had a throwback feel: a vivid image of a lone runner on a dirt path, bolting along a green bluff above an ocean with inspirational text beneath, urging potential buyers to abandon all of their wayfinding technologies and become reacquainted with “the feeling of being lost.”
These were nice sentiments. But what gave Kohout pause was the slogan in large font underneath the photograph: “The Lost Cause.” And then there was the final sentence: “Because the lost cause will always be a cause worth supporting.”
For historians of the American South and the Civil War, these words are alarming. The Lost Cause was a story that white southerners told themselves after the Civil War to justify their embrace of slavery (it was a benign institution!), secession (a legitimate course of action!) and their defeat in the Civil War (a noble cause in defense of a “way of life”!).
And Nelson concludes:
The blunder that resulted provides more evidence that business majors need to take humanities classes and that corporations need to hire humanities majors. Included in their skill sets are the ability to do comprehensive research and to provide historical context and analysis on the language companies might want to use to sell their products. While an advertising degree might equip someone to know if marketing language might lure in potential consumers, it does not offer the historical training to catch this sort of mistake before it is made.
Read the entire piece here. I wonder how much money Nike lost when they pulled this campaign? The answer to this question might serve as one gauge for estimating how much a historian is worth.
The Gap could have used a historian as well when they tried to sell this black t-shirt several years ago:
Many on the Christian Right despise Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. His decision to kneel before the American flag was a form of protest against systemic racism in America.
Recently a reader of The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog asked me check out the “Personal Life” section of Kaepernick’s Wikipedia page. Here is what I found:
Kaepernick was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during his college years. Kaepernick spoke about his faith saying, “My faith is the basis from where my game comes from. I’ve been very blessed to have the talent to play the game that I do and be successful at it. I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I’m at. When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field. I think if you go out and try to do that, no matter what you do on the field, you can be happy about what you did.”
Kaepernick has multiple tattoos. His right arm features a scroll with the Bible verse Psalm 18:39 written on it. Tattooed under the scroll are praying hands with the phrase “To God The Glory” written on them. To the left of both the scroll and praying hands is the word “Faith” written vertically. His left arm features a Christian cross with the words “Heaven Sent” on it referring to Jesus. Written above and below the cross is the phrase “God Will Guide Me”. Written to the left and right of the cross is the Bible verse Psalm 27:3. His chest features the phrase “Against All Odds” and artwork around it that represents “inner strength, spiritual growth, and humility”. His back features a mural of angels against demons. Near the end of the 2012 NFL season, Kaepernick’s signature touchdown celebration involved flexing and kissing the bicep of his right arm. Kaepernick says he kisses his “Faith”, “To God The Glory”, and Psalm 18:39 tattoos and the reason he does the celebration is because “God has brought me this far. He has laid out a phenomenal path for me. And I can’t do anything but thank Him.”
I don’t know the current state of Kaepernick’s spiritual life or how he currently understands his religious identity (he girlfriend, Nessa Diab, is Muslim), but all of this sounds pretty evangelical to me. This sounds like a job for my Messiah College colleague Paul Putz, an expert on the history of sports and Christianity.
If the Wikipedia page (you can follow the footnotes through the links) is correct, would this change the minds of Kaepernick’s Christian Right critics? Would School of the Ozarks consider renegotiating their contract with Nike? Would this guy put his scissors away? Probably not, but if Kaepernick is a “brother in Christ” it would make it a bit more difficult to ostracize him.
Pastor Mack Morris
Rev. Mack Morris is the pastor at Woobridge Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama. On Sunday he took a pair of scissors and cut-up a Nike headband and wristband. During the sermon Morris said “America may not be the best country in the world and we have a lot of faults, but I tell you what, a lot of folks died for the sake of what the flag represents.” The congregation gave him a standing ovation.
Here is a taste of John Sharp’s piece at AL.com:
The Rev. Mack Morris took a hold of an old Nike headband and a wristband, held them both up before a packed church, and cut them.
“I ain’t using that no more,” said Morris, the senior pastor at Woodridge Baptist Church in west Mobile during his weekly Sunday sermon.
“I’ve bought my last pair of Nike shoes,” Morris said.
The reason? Morris, during a sermon titled “The Storms of Life,” said it was in protest to the Oregon-based apparel company’s recent advertising campaign centered around Colin Kaepernick, the professional football player who was the first athlete to take a knee during the national anthem that triggered a firestorm of controversy that exists to this day.
Kaepernick’s protest centered around concerns about police behavior and racial injustices in America.
Read the rest here.
What does Colin Kaepernick, Nike, or the national anthem have to do with a Sunday morning worship service?
And yes, a lot of folks did die for the sake of what the flag represents. They died for Colin Kaepernick’s right to take a knee for the purpose of calling attention to our failure to live up to our highest ideals.
Court evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, is thinking about joining the ranks of the College of the Ozarks and Truett McConnell University.
Here is a taste of Josh Moody’s piece at the Lynchburg (VA) News and Advance:
“If the company really has animus toward police officers, or if they’re intentionally disrespecting our flag, our veterans, our national anthem, as part of some mission of the company and using their resources to do it, then why deal with them when there are plenty of other good athletic companies out there?
“On the other hand, if they are just trying to make money off the attention that former quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been receiving then we understand that that’s just marketing and we’ll probably overlook it,” Falwell said Friday afternoon.
He added he has not yet spoken with Liberty’s legal department or Nike about the matter. Falwell said he plans to inquire about contract termination clauses, and the athletic department will contact Nike to see “what they are trying to accomplish” through the ad campaign.
In other words, if Nike is making a political and cultural statement with the Kaepernick ad, Liberty will try to back-out of its contract with the sportswear company. But if Nike is trying to exploit Kaepernick and the whole national anthem controversy in order to make money, Liberty has no problem with the company.
Another well-played public relations move by the second largest CHRISTIAN university in the world. 😉
Air Force does.
It will be interesting to see how these military academies handle Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign.
Here is how one Christian college responded.
It appears that the Naval Academy has a contract with Under Armour