In response to Colin Kaepernick being featured in Nike's 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign, some critics started burning or cutting up their Nike gear. And others, specifically anonymous users on the bulletin board 4Chan, created racist, faulty Nike coupons with Kaepernick’s face on them.
As Snopes details, on September 5 users posted three fake coupons, reportedly intended for distribution, on the "Politically Incorrect" 4Chan board. They are described as follows: "one offering 'people of color' 75 percent off shoes and apparel until 1 January 2019, another offering the same discount until 9 September 2018, and another offering 'urban youth' 80 percent off shoes and apparel until 31 October 2018." You can view an archived version of this thread, full of racist language, on 4Chan.
One of the 75 percent off Nike coupons read, "To show solidarity with the things WE believe in we are offering people of color 75% off any purchase of Nike's shoes or apparel." Two feature the "Believe in Something" slogan that Kaepernick uses in the recent ad campaign.
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When scanned, the QR code for the second 75 percent coupon reportedly reveals a threatening message that reads, "This is a ROBBERY, Move slowly and put all the LARGE bills in the shoe box OR everyone DIES." According to USA TODAY, though, Nike’s systems aren’t able to read QR codes, so the message wouldn’t have appeared in stores.
ATTENTION EVERYONE!! someone on 4-chan made a fake Nike "coupon" targeting people of color. if you scan the qr code on the coupon it says "This is a ROBBERY, Move slowly and put all the LARGE bills in the shoe box OR everyone DIES." please stay safe and spread this!! DO NOT USE! pic.twitter.com/IxJAR9uLJy— ngul tsakx☁️ (@soulsandhoodies) September 13, 2018
4Chan /pol users are casually trying to get black people arrested or killed this week. They've created several fake Nike coupons for "people of color" in light of the Kaepernick deal.— Dan Mac Guill (@danmacg) September 7, 2018
The QR code on one of them, when scanned with a barcode reader, displays a threatening message: pic.twitter.com/0TDA3Ep9JK
To further test the Nike coupons, USA TODAY took them to a Nike store in the Washington, D.C., area where they came up as "invalid."
Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, told USA TODAY: "This is nothing more than a dog whistle to a small, and unfortunate, segment of America. Another way to put it is that this is a racial statement masquerading as [read: pretending to be] a scam."
"Scams related to brand names generally attempt to sell something that appears to be branded by the well-known name but is a fake," Gillis said. "It is a bit unusual for political issues and scams to be mixed."
This isn't anything new for 4Chan users.
According to Snopes, the same sort of hoax happened in response to the April 2018 arrest of two black men after they used a Philly Starbucks bathroom and sat down without ordering. Accused of trespassing, their arrests sparked national outrage.
The resulting coupons found on 4Chan offered free drinks for people "of African-American heritage."
The rules for 4Chan's "Politically Incorrect" board state that, "Debate and discussion related to politics and current events is welcome," and you're "free to speak your mind." The only posts that appear to be prohibited from the board are pornographic one. However, 4Chan's global rules do state that you cannot post racist content outside of their "/b/" image board (supposedly a "random" image board on 4Chan that is also one of the original boards created on the site).
Has anyone actually used these fake Nike coupons?
Nike reportedly alerted their US retail locations when they were made aware of these fake Nike coupons.
According to employees at two stores who spoke to USA TODAY, they hadn’t seen any shoppers attempt to use the doctored coupons — though it's unclear whether the coupons were brought into other locations prior to the company's alerts.
Nike's Colin Kaepernick "Just Do It" campaign features a black and white image of his face and the words: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
The former NFL quarterback caused controversy in 2016 when he was the first to take a knee during the national anthem. In doing so he was protesting police brutality and social injustice black people in this country have — and continue to — face. Nike chose Kaepernick as the face of their campaign this year because they stand with him.
"We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward," Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America, said on ESPN.
Representatives from 4Chan and Nike were not available for immediate comment.