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Nike’s Colin Kaepernick TV ad is inspirational, not controversial

The question Friday morning wasn’t whether President Trump would tweet about the debut of Colin Kaepernick’s Nike commercial but whether it would be the first thing he would tweet about after waking up.

And there it was, first thing on the presidential docket at 6:56 a.m.

“What was Nike thinking?” Trump tweeted rather briefly and directly.

But if you actually watched the commercial that aired on NBC during the third quarter of season-opening games between the Falcons and Eagles, it’s pretty obvious what Nike is thinking – and it’s not whether to take a knee during the national anthem.

All you need to know about Nike’s ultimate goal with the Kaepernick campaign is contained in the ad’s first minute. It begins with a skateboarder falling off a rail, a child with no legs on a wrestling mat, an African-American boy who couldn’t be 10 years old running down a dirt road, a young shadowboxing woman wearing hijab, a surfer, a Pop Warner football game and a blond girl playing high school football against boys.

This isn’t about consumers Nike might lose in their anger over Kaepernick. It’s about cultivating an entire generation of consumers who are up for grabs at a moment where the lines between culture, politics and activism are blurry – a notion that might make older people uncomfortable but is now the coming-of-age reality for anyone under 18.

Ironically, if you take Kaepernick out of the ad, there is nothing controversial about the images and words contained inside of it. “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy; ask if they’re crazy enough” seems like it could be a tag line to practically any Nike ad campaign, a direct link to the “Just Do it” slogan the company is celebrating with a 30th anniversary push.

Every one of those images connects to the overall theme of being different, of overcoming some type of obstacle or stereotype, which fits in well with why Kaepernick is here in the first place rather than playing quarterback in the NFL.

But it also seems designed to appeal to teenagers, without making it necessary to align with Kaepernick’s political and social justice views.

Yes, it’s Kaepernick’s voice and his image at the end, walking down a city street wearing a black mock turtleneck underneath a tan coat. But there is nothing in the ad that connects him to football or the NFL, even though his own backstory – being adopted by white parents, getting one college scholarship offer from Nevada and ultimately quarterbacking a team to the Super Bowl – contains some of the same inspirational threads as the people he’s narrating over.

Moreover, the commercial’s only allusion to the protest he sparked is subtle. As the camera brings Kaepernick into view from behind – you recognize him by his Afro – he’s standing and looking at a waving American flag being projected onto a building.

Then, as Kaepernick walks out of the frame, the images of the young people from earlier in the ad appear on those buildings and the words are flashed on the screen: “It’s only crazy until you do it. Just do it.”

Casting Kaepernick in this light is interesting because he’s the only person in the ad who isn’t shown playing a sport or wearing some type of Nike gear. That seems intentional, as if to acknowledge that he’s moved beyond the sports context and into the zeitgeist of these political and cultural times.

And when you think about what Nike’s actually trying to accomplish here, it makes perfect sense.

Though Nike has been the country’s preeminent sneaker and sports apparel company for a generation, Adidas has steadily been making headway, particularly with younger people. In the second quarter of 2018, Adidas posted a $485 million profit, shattering Wall Street expectations. That followed nine consecutive quarters in which the company’s sales increased by at least 20%.

Fueled by its alliance with pop culture stars such as Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, Adidas has made up significant ground and surpassed Jordan Brand (a Nike subsidiary) last year as No. 2 in the sneaker game.

Nike didn’t really have a comparable face, and many of its preeminent athletes they’ve been associated with outside the NBA (such as Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams) are at the back end of their careers and don’t necessarily identify with teenagers. But that’s what shoe companies have to do: Figure out not just who their customers are now, but who their customers are going to be in five years, 10 years and beyond.

That’s who this is aimed at. We’re on the cusp of welcoming a generation of kids into adulthood who grew up with politics being injected into practically every area of their lives. Whether that’s a good thing will be for others to determine, but it’s a moment that’s happening and Nike is looking for a way to capitalize on it.

Kaepernick probably won’t sell a lot of shoes to my contemporaries. But would the ad that played Thursday night resonate with high school kids who are growing up in a confusing, polarized, politically active era? Nike is counting on it.

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Meek Mill Donates 6,000 Backpacks with Supplies to Philly Students

Meek Mill showed up at his alma mater, James G Blaine Elementary, and announced that he’s donating 6,000 backpacks with supplies to students in Philly.

He stated, “Growing up in Philly, I’ve watched families struggle to make ends meet and buy basic school supplies for their kids. Those memories stay with me and that’s why I’m committed to giving back to families in my hometown, putting smiles on kids’ faces and helping them start the school year on the right note with the right supplies.”

Over the past five years, Meek Mill and his Dream Chasers crew have been giving back to his hometown with charitable drives, including giving away turkeys on Thanksgiving. Meek is also getting involved with a “major foundation” that will focus on criminal justice reform, according to 76ers owner Michael Rubin.

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Baltimore Officer Resigns After Video Shows Him Repeatedly Punching Man

A Baltimore police officer has resigned following a viral video of him repeatedly punching a man identified as 26-year-old DaShawn McGrier.

According to reports, McGrier was moving to leave after police pulled up to where he was hanging out and he noticed an officer that he had a history with and didn’t want any trouble. McGrier was arrested in June for allegedly assaulting the unnamed officer, and his trial was scheduled for later this month. This time around, it was McGrier who was assaulted.

The officer reportedly asked McGrier for his identification and when he refused, the officer hit McGrier repeatedly and pinned him to the ground. McGrier’s attorney Warren Brown said he sustained a “Fractured jaw, two fractured ribs, he lost feeling in his left leg,” in the incident. He has since regained feeling in his leg.

According to Baltimore Police, McGrier was taken into custody and received medical treatment, and he was released without any charges. The unnamed officer was suspended during an investigation of the incident, and the officer later resigned.

Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle released a statement, which read, “While I have an expectation that officers are out of their cars, on foot, and engaging citizens, I expect that it will be done professionally and constitutionally. I have zero tolerance for behavior like I witnessed on the video today. Officers have a responsibility and duty to control their emotions in the most stressful of situations.”

Brown is planning to take action against the officer and the Baltimore Police Department.

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Florida sheriff won’t charge man in deadly “stand your ground” shooting

Police say they will not charge a Florida man for killing another man in a parking lot after an argument over a parking spot. Surveillance video shows Michael Drejka shot and killed Markeis McGlockton after McGlockton pushed him. Florida’s “stand your ground” law allows people to respond with deadly force with they believe lives are in danger. Protesters gathered at the scene yesterday, demanding justice for McGlockton. Meg Oliver reports.

Lil Yachty Holds Memorial Service for XXXTentacion in Atlanta

Many in and out of the music industry continue to mourn the death of XXXTentacion. The week surrounding his murder has been a whirlwind with suspects being brought into custody and the revelation that X was going to be a father. Memorial services and vigils have been held in his honor ranging from the more peaceful in Florida to the more raucous in Los Angeles. Lil Yachty decided to give the X fans in Atlanta a space to mourn the late rapper during the service he organized at Centennial Park in the A.

Yachty spoke to the crowd of fans that packed Centennial Park telling them, “Anybody who know me who know my music then they know I’ve been preaching positivity. And that’s what I’ma do, I’ma hold that legacy for X and gon’ keep promoting this positivity,” adding “All that hate, all that envy, all that bullsh*t. We gotta leave that shit in the past. Life is too short.”

Cop Fired For Pulling Over Daughter’s Black Boyfriend for No Reason

An Ohio police officer was fired after a video surfaced of him stopping and illegally detaining a young black man who was dating his daughter during a traffic stop.

Former officer John Kovach Jr. violated many conduct of policy procedures during a traffic stop that involved 18-year-old Makai Coleman. The footage from the stop has gone viral because of what Kovach said to Coleman. Kovach’s daughter was in the car as well. The officer told Coleman to get out of the vehicle and that he is “going to jail” after pulling him over with no cause.

When Coleman asked why he was being detained, the officer told him “Have a seat in my car, we’ll make s**t up as we go.” During this entire incident, Kovach ignored an emergency call about a road rage incident.

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Beyonce Buys $800,000 Church in New Orleans

According to reports, Beyonce recently purchased a rather large church in New Orleans. The church is said to be about 7,500 square feet. Although it is unclear how much she actually paid, the facility was listed at $850,000.

The church was reportedly built in the early 1900s. It has not been in use in recent years due to a number of it’s members passing away. Her plans for the building are not yet known but it can potentially facilitate single and multi-family apartment homes or be renovated and kept as a church.

Beyonce’s sister Solange and her husband reportedly live near the church. The purchase kicks off what will be a busy summer For Queen Bey. She’d also heading out on the On The Run II tour along with husband Jay-Z.

It’s been reported that Destiny’s Child will also be joining her on tour. She definitely gives her fans their money’s worth when she hits the stage stage. So I f you can’t make it to the “church of Beyonce,” I imagine a concert is the next best thing.

 

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