Protesters burn Nike trainers after company reveals Colin Kaepernick is face of new campaign

Protesters have burned Nike merchandise after the brand announced Colin Kaepernick as a face of its new advertising campaign.

Shares in the sportswear giant fell by three per cent as it gained traction on social media following its choice of the American Football player for the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It" slogan.

Over 30,000 people were tweeting with the hashtag #NikeBoycott on Tuesday, making it among the top trending topics on Twitter. Many posted images of themselves burning and ripping their Nike trainers and clothing.

Kaepernick, 30, was the first National Football League (NFL) player to protest against racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the American national anthem in 2016.

Other players followed suit, leading to a fierce national debate and criticism from President Donald Trump, who suggested players who refuse to stand for the national anthem "shouldn’t be in the country".

Nike called Kaepernick "one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation" as they announced him as a face of the anniversary campaign.

The new advert also features tennis champion Serena Williams, and two other American Football players Odell Beckham Jr and Shaquem Griffin.

Critics hit out at the campaign on Tuesday using the hashtag #JustBurnIt – a play on Nike’s slogan ‘Just Do It’ – which trended on Twitter alongside #BoycottNike and #NikeBoycott.

Arkansas’ governor Mike Huckabee, father of the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, has added his voice to the boycott campaign.

Mr Huckabee said on Tuesday he "will not be wearing any Nike products", adding "I guess Nike will now focus on making knee pads".

Country singer John Rich also said he would be boycotting the company.

However retail analysts were divided on whether the heat around the campaign would be a commercial positive for Nike or ultimately alienate and lose customers.

"Old angry white guys are not a core demographic for Nike," said Matt Powell, a senior adviser with market research firm NPD Group.

Another analyst, GlobalData Retail’s Neil Saunders, said the campaign will harm Nike in middle America, where it is battlin Germany’s Adidas for dominance in the trainers market.

"The company’s stand may go down well on its native West Coast; it will be far less welcome in many other locations," he said.

A number of high profile figures have supported Nike, arguing the brand was taking a stand on social issues.

Athletes including LeBron James and Kevin Durant showed support, posting images of Kaepernick’s advert on their Instagram profiles.

Williams said she was "especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today".

John Brennan, the former CIA director, tweeted: "Colin Kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America.

"He did so not to disrespect our flag but to give meaning to the words of the preamble of our Constitution-‘in order to form a more perfect union.’ Well done, Colin, well done."

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