Nike Law Enforcement Appreciation Day Ad
Nike Law Enforcement Appreciation Day Ad

Nike & Converse Called Out By #BlackLivesMatter Movement For #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay Promotion

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Both Nike and Converse have been taken to task on social media by highly visible members of the #BlackLivesMatter movement today, for a new promotion built around the idea and hashtag #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay.  At stores across the nation, law enforcement officers are being encouraged to show their badge or ID card to redeem a 30 percent discount on their purchases, a promotion announced by the Nike apparel company (Converse is a subsidiary of Nike Inc.) in a circulated advertisement that reads in part:

"To show our support and appreciation for the officers who keep our communities safe and support our stores and outreach initiatives, Nike is excited to announce our second annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day...We thank you for your service to our communities and look forward to your patronage."

Consequently, the promotion and the corporate sneaker giant behind it have been lambasted on twitter by noteworthy activists including Deray Mckesson, who posted both advertisement images to his personal account and remarked, "The police have killed 420 people in 2015. America." Other voices within the Black Lives Matter movement were quick to echo Mckesson's sentiments, expressing disappointment and disgust.

Ferrari Sheppard has even gone as far as to put out an open call for original Anti-Nike poster art centered on the phrase #DontDoIt (aspiring guerrilla advertisers, tweet your work directly @StopBeingFamous. Sheppard has stated that the most compelling images will be shared at 5pm EST tomorrow, May 14th.)

As the nation continues to reel in the wake of high-profile police killings of unarmed, uncharged suspects including Baltimore's Freddie Gray and evidence emerges that police killings have risen nationwide, Nike's timing could not have been worse, especially amongst its key demographic of black youth customers. Several would-be customers have commented that company will no longer receive their business. At the very least, the #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay sale shows a basic-level deafness to America's current social discussion and clumsy marketing on Nike's part, no matter what its intentions.

It also makes plain Nike's ignorance of recent and painful history. Today's pro-cop sale falls on the 30 year anniversary of the MOVE bombings in Philadelphia--a standoff between city police and Black Liberation activists that ended in two bombs being dropped on a row house from helicopters. The resulting explosion caused a massive fire, one in which 65 homes were destroyed and 11 people were killed--collateral damage of police-sanctioned violence. Five children were amongst the dead, and those that ordered the police bombing were ultimately never charged. The 1985 MOVE bombing was extensively documented in the 2013 film Let The Fire Burn--essential viewing for those anyone who wants to understand how we arrived at the current climate of paramilitary policing--and the corresponding necessity of stating that #BlackLivesMatter.

Given Nike's massive sneaker market share (and the Law Enforcement Appreciation Day promotion's relatively low profile), it's fair to presume that the company will continue to reap massive profits and enjoy a revered public image--thanks in no small part to President Obama's recent touting of the company as a global trade success story. We, however, may well be sitting out the next Jordan launch. Hell, Jordan may be sitting out the next Jordan launch, unless cooler heads prevail at Nike, and quickly. We know Air Force Ones are made for dunking. Let's see how they look while walking it back.