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Nike store foot-traffic spiked 17% in the week after Kaepernick ad

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

After Nike unveiled its new Colin Kaepernick “Just Do It” ad campaign on Labor Day, Americans flocked to Nike brick-and-mortar stores, according to Foursquare data shared exclusively with Yahoo Finance.

Foursquare compared the week after Labor Day this year, Sept. 4 to Sept. 10, to the same week in 2017, and found that overall foot-traffic to 242 Nike stores in the U.S. went up by an average 16.9%.

Foursquare also compared foot traffic in blue counties to red counties to get a sense of the political breakdown. (Foursquare defined red counties or blue counties based on which 2016 presidential candidate receive 55% of the votes or more.)

In blue counties, foot traffic to Nike stores went up 27.3%, and in red counties, it went up 8.5%.

A billboard featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the roof of the Nike Store in San Francisco, Calif., on Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Nike data is a sign that amid all the controversy over Nike’s embrace of Kaepernick, including considerable blowback from some conservatives, the marketing bet paid off for Nike. (Note that increased foot traffic to stores does not necessarily equate to sales.)

“You might expect the red counties would be down but they were also up,” said Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck on Yahoo Finance’s Midday Movers live show. “All of the earned media and all that debate, actually worked ultimately in Nike’s favor.”

As Nike CEO Mark Parker said on the company’s recent Q1 earnings report, the Kaepernick campaign drove “record engagement with the brand.”

Foursquare, once best known for its app that allowed people to check into locations and become the “Mayor,” has shifted to become more of an enterprise, business-to-business data play. To gather foot-traffic data, Foursquare sources from its Foursquare City Guide and Swarm apps, plus from partner apps like Uber and Snapchat. “People don’t have to check in anymore,” Glueck says. “As the phones move in and out, we can understand what’s going on with the economy.”

This week Foursquare announced a $33 million Series F fundraising round.

Daniel Roberts is the sports business writer at Yahoo Finance. He hosts the podcast Sportsbook. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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