The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Local reaction to Nike deal mixed and mild


September 5, 2018

If there’s a strong consumer response to Nike’s endorsement of pro-athlete-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick, it hasn’t quite landed in eastern New Mexico.

Merchants in Clovis and Portales carrying Nike inventory told The News on Tuesday afternoon that they hadn’t yet seen any major local changes in the product’s sales following the polarizing Labor Day reveal of an endorsement deal with the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Employees of various shoe and apparel stores said Nike was one of their top selling brands, and while they would see how the market responded they could not imagine removing the items from their shelves.

Kota York said he asked his store manager about it first thing when he came to work at North Plains Mall, but so far no customers had piped up on the topic. This, even as the deal became a trending topic on Twitter and other social networks and certain celebrities made a show of cutting from their clothes the iconic Nike swoosh logo.

“But I’m sure something will come up,” he added.

There was some talk on the matter at the same store’s Portales location, according to an employee, but the strong feelings were more with Nike’s costs rather than its evident support of the man who provoked criticism from as high as the Oval Office by kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

“I had not heard of (the Nike deal) until a customer said something,” Hannah Molinar told The News. “She said she wouldn’t buy Nike, not because of politics but because it’s just expensive.”

The recent development in a controversy unfolding over the past two NFL seasons was also news Tuesday to Portales’ Evelyn Armendariz, who wore a Nike visor throughout the day and wondered if she got dirty looks for it.

She told The News she didn’t plan to heed the outraged calls for boycott of the brand, since “it’s just clothing.”

Her friend Julian Cuevas, also from Portales, felt the same way. He said it was “silly” of people to cut up their own clothing in protest, and felt that they had “lost sight” of the social justice premise of Kaepernick’s original protest. He believed those intentions were good.

“I also think this is a smart marketing ploy by Nike,” he observed.

There’s no doubt that if Nike sought a deluge of publicity attendant to its 30th anniversary “Just Do It,” campaign, it has done that well. Kaepernick will be one of the faces of that campaign through a multi-year deal that will feature him on several platforms, including billboards, television commercials and online ads. Nike also will create an apparel line for Kaepernick and contribute to his Know Your Rights charity. Kaepernick and the discussion he inspires will then be difficult to ignore, even as he is excluded from the league where his protest originated.

Shares of Nike Inc. dropped 2 percent in early trading on Tuesday, but Cuevas said he thought the stock would stabilize and ultimately boost after the dust settled.

“Nike always sells well,” said Debra Garcia, manager at another clothing store in Clovis.

Mike Brandt, manager of a shoes and workboot store in Clovis, told The News he believed Nike would double back on the contract — which it has not officially announced — before too long.

“I have a feeling Nike will fold on it,” he said. His store never carried any Nike merchandise in the first place, but he offered his two cents on the matter.

“It’s kind of a moot point, since I don’t carry that brand,” he said. “But I have four kids in the military, put it that way.”

Clovis’ Elijah Davis summed up his opinion concisely on the many moving parts of the issue: “I think the whole thing is ridiculous.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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