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Mayor bans Nike products from city’s recreation facilities amid debate over Kaepernick ad

Posted at 10:31 AM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 12:43:07-04
Mayor E. Ben Zahn III
The mayor of a Louisiana town has banned Nike products — and councilmen and residents are speaking out against his directive / CITY OF KENNER/NIKE

A Louisiana mayor has taken a bold step in expressing his opposition to Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign — he has banned the brand’s products from his city’s recreation facilities.

Kenner Mayor E. Ben Zahn III requested that the city’s recreation department ban usage or delivery of all Nike products, a city councilman, Gregory Carroll, wrote on his district’s Facebook page.

Carroll, a councilman for Kenner’s first district, wrote that he was not made aware of the mayor’s decision to ban Nike products and that “it is in direct contradiction of what I stand for and what the City of Kenner should stand for.”

“I am 100% AGAINST this decision,” Carroll wrote. “I will meet with the Mayor and other Council members in an effort to rescind this directive. I will keep the citizens of Kenner, and the Greater New Orleans area informed as we move forward.”

The letter from Mayor Zhan to the city’s Director of Parks and Recreation Chad Pitfield, was obtained by the New Orleans Advocate. 

“Effective immediately all purchases made by any booster club operating at any Kenner Recreation Facility for wearing apparel, shoes, athletic equipment, and/or any athletic product must be approved by the Director of Parks and Recreation, or his designee,” the letter reads. “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner recreation facility.” CBS News has not independently verified the authenticity of the letter. 

A councilman from nearby New Orleans had a similar reaction to Councilman Carroll when heard of the mayor’s new directive. “I was in church when I received a copy of the letter from the Mayor of Kenner. I have never felt a need to purchase one of these before but I am compelled now,” Councilman Jay H. Banks wrote on Facebook, referring to a Nike t-shirt he purchased. He shared a photo of himself in front of a Nike store, with a newly-purchased Nike apparel. “Thank you NIKE!” he wrote. The two New Orleans-area councilmen are both black.

New Orleans rapper, Dee-1, also weighed in, sharing Mayor Zahn’s memo on Twitter. “It disappoints me that this is happening in my state,” Dee-1 tweeted. “I would like to have a conversation with him when i return from this European Tour. Not to fuss, just to build.”

Nike’s decision to bring on Kaepernick — known for kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality and racial injustice — sparked calls for a boycott. Some consumers expressed support for the brand and its products and marketing experts said the controversy may ultimately prove beneficial for Nike in a climate where consumers expect companies to take political stands.

However, about 24 percent of consumers now say they view the brand unfavorably, up from 7 percent before the sports apparel giant revealed the former National Football League quarterback as the face of a new marketing campaign, according to research firm Morning Consult. 

The mayor of Kenner is not the first to respond to the Nike ad with a ban on the brand’s products. The College of the Ozarks, a private Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, vowed to remove all uniforms featuring the Nike logo after the Kaepernick spot was unveiled last week. 

Bob Ross, public information officer for the City of Kenner, told CBS News the mayor will be releasing a statement on his new directive on Monday.