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Young people support Nike's bet on Kaepernick, poll shows

"What was Nike thinking?" President Donald Trump said on Twitter last week about Nike's new ad featuring Col...

Posted: Sep 13, 2018 11:40 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2018 11:40 AM

"What was Nike thinking?" President Donald Trump said on Twitter last week about Nike's new ad featuring Colin Kaepernick.

A new poll may provide an answer.

Nike's decision to make the former San Francisco 49ers' quarterback a centerpiece of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign was a shrewd investment in its core customers: Younger Americans.

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. In the 35-to-44 age bracket, the decision earned support among a majority, 52%, compared to 37% who were against it.

Older adults were less supportive of the move: Only 26% of adults over 65 backed the decision.

But they are not Nike's base. Two-thirds of the company's sneaker customers are younger than 35, according to Matt Powell, a sports retail analyst at market research firm NPD Group.

Nike carefully weighed its choices with Kaepernick, and placed a strategic bet on the athlete-turned-social activist.

Kaepernick— the polarizing quarterback who began raising awareness about police brutality and racial injustice by sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem at football games in 2016—announced the "Just Do It" ad with a photo on Twitter September 3.

"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything," he said. A television version of the ad, narrated by Kaepernick, first aired during the NFL's season opener last Thursday.

The ad provoked backlash from some who believe his protest during the anthem was disrespectful. Some people posted pictures cutting their Nike socks, burning their Nike shoes, and #BoycottNike started trending.

But the boycott proved fleeting and had no impact on half of Americans' views about the company, the poll found.

Nike's stock is up since Kaepernick revealed the ad. The company's sales online jumped 31% after it was released, according to one analysis by digital research firm Edison Trends.

Earlier this week, one investment analyst called the ad a "stroke of genius."

The ad resonated with Nike's customer base and bolstered its relationships with sponsor athletes such as LeBron James and Serena Williams, Camilo Lyon, an investment analyst at Canaccord Genuity, argued in a research report upgrading Nike's stock.

"This premeditated move was another subtle but significant sign of [Nike's] strength and confidence in its position in the marketplace, one that likely does more good than harm," he said.

The poll shows a sharp split along age, class and racial lines on Nike's ad campaign.

A plurality of poll respondents, 41%, opposed the company's choice of Kaepernick, while 37% supported the move. The rest were unsure.

But a majority of African-Americans and college educated Americans supported the ad. 68% of black people approved, while only 16% were against it.

The poll also reflects a deep divide over Kaepernick along familiar political lines, with 74% of Republicans opposed to the ad, while 64% of Democrats backed it. 42% of independent voters opposed it.

The poll was conducted by SSRS September 4 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,008 adults. They were reached by landline or cellphone by a live interviewer. The margin of sampling error for the poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

—CNN Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this story.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36287

Reported Deaths: 1249
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
Madison148439
Jones122449
Harrison117716
Rankin112619
Neshoba104677
Forrest103843
Lauderdale96681
Scott82415
Jackson79819
Washington73713
Copiah67016
Leake63420
Lee62822
Oktibbeha61928
Grenada6049
Warren60021
Holmes59541
Lamar5837
Wayne56519
Yazoo5607
Lowndes54817
Leflore53456
Lincoln53335
Lafayette5064
Pike50520
Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
Covington4465
Simpson4433
Bolivar41218
Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
Claiborne30811
Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
Montgomery1793
Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
Itawamba1478
Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
Clay852
Fayette851
Coosa661
Cleburne451
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