Nike Inc.’s [ NKE, +0.57% 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign featuring ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick has expanded its social media reach, was a positive for the brand and likely boosted its sales, Wedbush analysts said Friday, reiterating their outperform rating on the stock. “Insights from our adviser and data checks, including our proprietary analysis, indicate that Nike both catered to its consumer and likely made overall net gains,” analyst Christopher Svezia wrote in a note. “Indeed, management knows its American consumer well and the campaign featuring Mr. Kaepernick is a positive for the brand and likely its sales.” The ad, which highlights the protests against racial injustice started by Kaepernick that involves kneeling during the playing of the national anthem ahead of games, has attracted an additional roughly 170,000 followers to the company’s Instagram account, he said, and daily follower gains have roughly doubled vs. August, said the analyst. The Instagram post for the full ad was second most liked in Nike’s history and has the potential to be most liked, which would mean surpassing the World Cup this summer. It was not without controversy, however. The ad’s Instagram post was also the most commented on in Nike’s history, nearly double the second most commented on post, with many supportive comments and many anti-Nike. “In the end, the net follower gains due to the ad and possibly record likes by Americans, as well as the company’s consumer demographic, lead us to believe that the Kaepernick ad campaign was a positive for the brand and likely its sales.” Last week, a Silicon Valley digital commerce research company, Edison Trends, said Nike’s online sales actually rose 31% from the Sunday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday, showing growth that outperformed the 17% gain recorded for the same period of 2017. Nike shares have gained 33.5% in 2018, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.57% which counts it as a member, has gained about 6% and the S&P 500 SPX, +0.53% has gained about 9%.

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