Nike's first Kaepernick commercial to air during NFL opener: report

Nike is wasting no time in implementing its new “Just Do It” marketing campaign starring free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the polarizing figure that popularized player protests during the pre-game playing of the national anthem.

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The sports apparel giant is set to air the Kaepernick commercial on Thursday night during the first game of the 2018 NFL season, a Nike spokesperson confirmed to FOX Business. Kaepernick voices the commercial and appears alongside top sports stars such as LeBron James, Odell Beckham Jr. and Serena Williams.

Kaepernick posted a first look at the commercial on his Twitter account, with a runtime of just over two minutes. It’s unclear exactly when the commercial will air during the game’s broadcast. The spot will also air this week during television coverage of the US Open, Major League Baseball and college football games, as well as various streaming platforms, the Nike spokesperson added.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell was first to report the timing of the commercial's release.

Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick in the ad campaign, which commemorates the 30th anniversary of the company’s iconic “Just Do It” slogan, has drawn a mixed reaction on social media this week. During the 2016 season, Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice.

Nike shares stabilized in trading Wednesday, rising slightly after dropping by more than 2 percent on Tuesday, the day after the campaign was announced.

The NFL issued a statement supporting Nike’s partnership with Kaepernick on Tuesday. The league recently extended is exclusive apparel agreement with Nike through the 2028 season last March, in a deal said to be worth billions of dollars.

ESPN previously reported that NFL officials were not aware of Nike’s plan to use Kaepernick in the campaign before it was announced.

Kaepernick has not appeared in an NFL game since the end of the 2016 season. He is currently suing the league’s 32 owners, accusing them of conspiring to keep him out of the league because of his role in popularizing the protests.