Controversy Sells: Nike Sold Out of More Items After the Colin Kaepernick Ad, Even as It Cut Discounts

September 20, 2018, 11:12 AM UTC

At this point, it is abundantly clear that Nike’s controversial decision to feature Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign paid off handsomely—the company got a load of valuable free publicity, its online sales quickly saw a boost after the campaign launched, and its stock hit a record high last week.

Now there’s more data to back up the Kaepernick effect: Thomson Reuters’ research arm looked into the data on Nike’s online sales in the 10 days following the campaign’s launch, and discovered a 61% rise in the amount of sold-out merchandise compared with the 10 days before the launch.

The researchers also noted that, immediately following the launch, Nike (NKE) managed to cut the number of items it was discounting on its e-commerce site by almost a third, and still do well.

“Although the initial ad might have caused negative reaction among investors, Nike maintained its product pricing structure, offered less discounting and sold out of 61% more merchandise since the ad began running,” the researchers wrote.

Kaepernick is best known for being one of the first NFL players to take a knee during the national anthem, in protest at racial injustice in the U.S. The practice is incredibly controversial, with many conservatives seeing it as a protest against the U.S. military and police.

President Donald Trump, who has long railed against the knee-taking practice, reacted furiously to Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick in its new campaign, which marks the 30th anniversary of the company’s famous “Just Do It” slogan.

“Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts,” the president tweeted a couple weeks ago.