Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick won’t be in the huddle of either the Philadelphia Eagles or Atlanta Falcons tonight in the National Football League’s season opener, but his presence will hover over the game.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback will score major publicity points when Nike unveils its two-minute ad during the NFL showcase, featuring Kaepernick with Team Nike superstars LeBron James and Serena Williams. Good company, indeed.

That “Dream Crazy” ad is bound to drive Nike boycotters and Kaepernick critics nuts. President Trump took time out from his busy Sept. 5 schedule to tweet-bomb the athletic wear marketer: “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way.”

Mr. President, Nike knew exactly what it was getting into when it hired Kaepernick, who burst upon the national scene in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and other social injustices.

While Trump backers are happily burning their pricey Nike footwear and cutting swoosh logos from shirts and socks, the company's target customer base of Gen-Z (18-21) and Millennials (22-37) are way more supportive than the protesters of the rights of sports figures to kneel during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

A Morning Consult poll taken following Nike’s Sept. 3 announcement of Kaepernick’s hiring found that 52 percent of Gen-Zers are much more/somewhat more favorable or say it “makes no difference” if brands advocate for the rights of anthem kneelers. Twenty-one percent of that group either don’t know or failed to express an opinion.

Millennials clocked in at 48 percent favorable or no difference. Eighteen percent have no opinion.

The views of Gen-Z and Millennial consumers sharply contrast with Trump backers. A whopping 58 percent of Trump supporters, a group that skews much older than Nike’s target customer base, feel “much less favorable” and 11 percent “somewhat less favorable” toward brands that support the rights of anthem kneelers.

Nike’s decision to suit up Kaepernick appears to be a marketing touchdown among its key customers.

Mary Scott, president of UEG, sports/entertainment/lifestyle marketing firm, made another key point in the Sept. 4 New York Times. “When was the last time we talked about a Nike campaign?” she asked. It’s been a very long time.

Nike decision to “Just Do It” with Kaepernick has generated lots of buzz and support among the people it counts on to buy its stuff.

Nike's dealmaking prowess is right from the president's favorite book, "The Art of the Deal."