How Audiences React to Kaepernick’s Nike Ad

Morning Consult, a research company, had 1900 people watch the new Nike commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick and record their reactions in realtime. The video above shows the commercial and the graphed reactions of four age groups: Gen Z (18-21, white line), Millennials (22-37, teal line), Gen X (38-53, yellow line), and Boomers (54-72, red line). The report also has graphs showing results by race and political affiliation (the dashed line is when Kaepernick first appears on screen).

Respondents were asked to indicate in real-time whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of the commercial they were watching.

Watch the results unfold as the ad plays below, noting where opinions start to diverge among different generations. 

How Audiences React to Kaepernick’s Nike Ad 1 How Audiences React to Kaepernick’s Nike Ad 2

Gen Z & Millennials gave the ad higher ratings throughout the add compared to older viewers and had a less negative reaction to the “polarizing” parts.

What I find interesting is that the report only mentions the effect of Kapernick appearing on the screen. I see some other distinct moments here:

  1. Rating dip before Kapernick even takes the screen, the decline starts when the ad refers to LeBron James as “the best basketball player on the planet” and “bigger than basketball” for recently opening his I Promise School.
  2. Then Kapernick’s appearance in front of an American flag with his large Afro triggers a steep decline in ratings among older viewers, particularly Boomers and Republicans.
  3. Serena Williams labeled “the greatest athlete ever” results in the steepest decline during the entire ad… keep in mind that this was before the controversy at the US Open. (only black Americans had no problem with that characterization).
  4. Kapernick is shown again and the decline continues

Pretty interesting stuff. Three outspoken athletes. All of them black. One a woman. The outspoken part doesn’t seem to be what’s causing any negativity.


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