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Believe in Something!

This simple imperative has sparked controversy and perhaps even further polarization within our culture. The genesis of the conversation revolves around a recent Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. The ad slogan in its entirety is “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” During his career in the NFL Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem at football games to protest police brutality. His simple act generated a national discussion of race, the role of athletes in society, and the more abstract concept of social justice.  As a result, he lost his lucrative football career.

The ad and the spokesperson drew immediate criticism and the inclusion of the word “something” lent itself to several memes. The ad itself is a montage of sports scenes and many recognizable successful athletes that some critics say distracts from the focal message. But the question is did this approach work with its young, idealistic target audience? Clearly, it was effective. Nike online sale immediately spiked 31%. The message of independent thinking, critical assessment of societal problems and the ability of youth to make a difference resonated with those to whom the message is directed.

As a Marketing faculty member at Quinlan I am constantly inspired by the thoughtful and impactful contributions our students make to social justice. These take place in classroom discussions and through selfless service in the larger community.  In the past, the Nike “Just Do It” campaign has been associated with some uncomfortable implications.  But in my opinion this campaign is truly inspired.  Believing in something is a daily motivator.  Our Ignatian heritage and the Jesuit values that we purport at Quinlan support the notion. So let’s all continue to believe that we can make our world (near and far) a better place.

Mary Ann

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