'Just don't do it': Nike's ad condemning George Floyd death slammed as skeptics ask what's the real motive
Social media users questioned Nike's motives after the clothing giant released an ad condemning the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old truck driver who died during his arrest in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
In the ad, soft piano music plays while white text appears over a black background and implores Americans to stand up to a system that had repeatedly failed African-Americans and people of color.
"For once, just don’t do it," it read. "Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent. Don’t think you can’t be part of the change. Let’s all be part of the change."
In an email addressed to his employees obtained by Yahoo Finance, Nike CEO John Donahoe explained why the company had decided to respond to not just Floyd's death, but also those of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Christian Cooper.
"Team, As we’ve watched racial tragedies expose prejudice and injustice in our cities over these past few weeks, I can’t stop thinking about the individuals impacted: Ahmaud Arbery. Christian Cooper, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd," he wrote. "The horrible killings and racist actions serve as a sickening reminder of what too many people live through every day in America. It is absolutely wrong what’s happening in our communities, to our friends and family members. These tragedies are not unique to the U.S. Far from it – we see violent incidents in countries all over the world, fueled by hatred and ignorance."
"Let me be as clear as I can: Nike is opposed to bigotry. We are opposed to hatred and inequality in all its forms, indirect and overt. While Nike cannot solve injustice, I believe we have a responsibility to work toward addressing it to the best of our ability."
However, Twitter users slammed Nike for being sanctimonious and suggested the company's true motives behind the ad were to profit of the tragedies and not some innocent exercise to raise awareness.
"Okay that's great that y'all made a minute long video but like...what are you doing to help?" one user wrote. "As a multi-billion dollar company I feel like there should be a little bit more done besides some white text on a black background."
"So we’re making ads about this now with the Nike symbol at the end?" another tweeted. "If Nike actually was pushing for real change they would support bills for legislation to help end this systematic racism, not just put up ads."
The skepticism is not unfounded, RT reported. Nike had previously publicly backed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick over his protests against police brutality that had seen him kneel during the national anthem and draw criticism from numerous quarters, including President Donald Trump.
The company had created a major campaign asking Americans to "sacrifice everything" to "believe in something," and while it took a 3 percent hit in stocks following the day of the launch, it saw an overall 5 percent increase — amounting to $6 billion in overall value — in the year that followed.
Trump's warning that Nike would get "absolutely killed with anger and boycotts" because of their involvement with Kaepernick only seemed to help profits further, with online sales jumping by 25 percent in the aftermath.
However, as others pointed out, the retailer had backed Kaepernick even though they stood to lose hundreds of thousands of white customers and has a long history of standing up for numerous social issues. Since 1988, they have spoken out about ageism, sexism, homophobia, gender discrimination, inequality, police brutality, and more.