Nike Inc.'s (NKE) just went ahead and did it.
The response to Nike's decision to feature embattled American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick in its signature campaign has been poignant, ranging from high-profile endorsements and words of praise from celebrities to critics burning their Nike shoes and lambasting the company on Twitter.
Kaepernick, who is not currently affiliated with any team, has been a fixture in the media spotlight due to his vocal stance on racial issues and alleged police misconduct, using his fame as a launching point to broadcast his opinion to a wider audience.
"Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today," Serena Williams wrote on Twitter (TWTR) following the announcement.
Williams, one of the primary athletes to be featured in the campaign alongside Kaepernick, has been outspoken in her support of Kaepernick's stance in the past.
"I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African American should be completely grateful and honored how Colin and [former 49ers safety Eric Reid] are doing so much more for the greater good," she told the Associated Press. "I feel like they obviously have great respect from a lot of their peers, especially other athletes, people that really are looking for social change."
The response was not limited to athletes.
"Running out to get some Nike's," said comedian and actress Amy Schumer on her Instagram page on Monday.
Still, the added publicity from these famous figures has not sparked the stock in the short term, as Nike shares are continuing to slide this morning, down about 2.7% at 2:15 p.m. in New York.
John Rich, one half of the popular country music group Big & Rich, was bearish on the stock as he predicted that the company will continue to endure trouble for its stock based on its politically motivated endorsement deals.
"Our Soundman just cut the Nike swoosh off his socks. Former marine. Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions," He wrote on twitter. "Pride goes before a fall. Watch @Nike stock by this time next week."
His sentiment was echoed by conservative actor James Woods, who called the move to endorse Kaepernick "brand suicide."
Nike Inc.'s (NKE) choice of Colin Kaepernick is drawing criticism from marketing executives and analysts as it is seen as politically polarizing.
Ronn Torossian, chief executive officer of New York City PR firm 5WPR, which has represented Pepsi Co. (PEP) , Microsoft Corp (MSFT) and Anheuser Busch and various celebrities told Real Money that Nike's decision to polarize its consumer base by selecting Kaepernick makes no sense from a perspective of driving sales.
"There will be short-term stock and sales consequences," Torossian said. "I don't like this deal and it unnecessarily alienates a large consumer base, whether you are talking 30, 40, or 60% of that base is unclear."
Torossian said he found it difficult to guess the logic Nike's marketing department were applying in selecting such a divisive figure.
"Nike is obviously a brand backed up by marketing geniuses," he said. "If I was working for Nike I would have told them not to do this, and if they were going to do it. Divisive marketing campaigns make sense for upstart challenger brands, not market leaders like Nike," Torossian said.
John Staszak, securities analyst on consumer discretionary and consumer staples for Argus Research Company, likewise voiced his uncertainty on the move.
"It could have an effect like it had on the NFL," he told Real Money. "[The NFL] and their ratings were obviously hurt by getting very political."
Jeff Henriksen, founder and managing Partner, Thorpe Abbotts Capital, summed up his thoughts by zeroing in on the polarizing nature of the campaign.
"For many, this decision by Nike represents a failure of the brand to reflect their deeply held patriotic values," he explained. "For others, it will be received as a bold move that aligns with their belief in free speech. All we can be sure of is the fact that Nike's move is an extremely divisive one."