Link to Kaepernick Dream Crazy Nike Video
Overview of Last Half of Class
Link to Kaepernick Analysis Part 1
Link to Kaepernick Analysis Part 2
Link to Kaepernick Final Argument Essay Writing Assignment
ASSIGNMENT EACH ONE IS. For example: Jane Doe. Kaepernick Part II.
Erase stuff I don’t need. Keep stuff that keeps me oriented to what you are doing. I am your
audience. Make it easy for me to understand what you are doing.
On your Doc, click on the big blue SHARE button in the upper right.
Choose: “Get a shareable link.”
Then on the small dropdown button, choose “anyone with the link” can “edit.”
You will share a different Google Doc with me for each of the next four assignments.
This assignment is divided up into parts with different due dates, which are on the calendar but also
in my comments as you scroll through the pages below. If I were you, I’d scroll all the way to the
bottom and read the final essay assignment, so you can see that three weeks of analysis is all
generating material for this big whopper of a final essay. You’re welcome.
1. To prepare, please familiarize yourself with How to Analyze Visual Rhetoric
2. Please also read in our textbook, Chapter 2, p. 30-40, which is on a skillset you will need for
this essay assignment, summarizing. Summarizing what you SEE is another form of
summarizing, and you will need that here.
3. Also Chapter 3 for another skill you will need, which is quoting correctly. There are tons of
extra templates and phraseologies in there that you should take notes on and use in your final
4. During the three weeks in Parts I, II, and III, you will be analyzing a famous commercial,
gathering ideas for your final paper. Obviously, if I’m giving you this much time, I am
expecting very thorough and complete work each week.
5. Your final paper asks you to compare and contrast a Nike commercial of your choice with the
Kaepernick, so it might make sense to choose that commercial at the beginning of this
process, then analyze it in parallel time with the assigned material. Then it will be ready for
you to use as notes for your final argument essay–I call that working smarter, not
Analyzing Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Commercial – Part I
Colin Kaepernick (pictured on the right) has been the
center of several controversies in recent years – most
notably, the controversy surrounding NFL players’
decision to kneel during the national anthem as a means
for raising awareness about racial inequality.
The news as of September 23 is still headlining this
story–check this out “Nike’s Market Value Surges
By $6 Billion After Controversial Kaepernick Ad”
(you can use this in your essay–just sayin! A good
critical thinker would ask if that is a faulty cause and
effect headline or if the relationship between the ad and
the money is accurate.)
Nike’s “It’s Only Crazy Until You Do It” advertisement
featured Kaepernick (he narrated the entire ad, and is
pictured speaking in the final ten seconds of the clip) … and, of course, huge controversy followed.
Before we analyze some of the arguments being posed by either side of the controversy itself, let’s consider the
argument being posed by the ad’s narration.
Below, you’ll find a transcript of Kaepernick’s narration, as well as guiding questions for analysis. The blank
column on the right is for you – to take notes, to jot down details you notice, to closely read and analyze the
corresponding lines, and to pose questions for discussion. Be thoughtful, and be thorough!
Don’t worry about the size of the box–just type away–I can figure it out!
If people say your dreams are
Guiding Questions
What’s the effect of starting the
entire narration with an “if”
What’s the effect of addressing the
audience (“YOUR dreams”) in the
first line?
Who is “people” – and, what’s the
intended effect of using such a
vague term, instead of something
more specific?
If they laugh at what you think you
can do…
There’s an important and nuanced
difference between these first two
lines. People don’t laugh at your
dreams, they laugh at what they
think you can do. What’s the
difference? What’s the intended
Your Notes & Analysis
What universal feeling is the
speaker trying to evoke? (Is there
anyone who wouldn’t feel a certain
way when imagining “people”
laughing at what they think he or
she can do?)
Good. Stay that way.
This is an abrupt, and likely
unexpected moment. The listener
likely doesn’t expect the speaker to
say that people laughing at his or
her dreams is “good.” What’s the
intended effect of this surprise?
Why does the speaker say “stay that
way”…? What feeling is he trying
to evoke? Is it pride? Is he
empowering the audience in some
way? (Who doesn’t want to be
empowered? …So, who is Nike
trying to reach with this ad? Is it
Because what non-believers fail to
understand is that calling a dream
crazy is not an insult.
The word choice here is very
deliberate, and very interesting. The
speaker says, “non-believers.” He
could have said a lot of other things
– like, “haters,” or “naysayers.”
What’s the difference? What is a
Who doesn’t want to be a
“believer”…? Is this rhetorical
device being used to expand the
audience? Do any individuals want
to be lumped into a group that
“fails to understand … that calling a
dream crazy is not an insult”…?
It’s a compliment.
Let’s focus on the actual message
here. The speaker says that calling a
dream crazy is a compliment. Why
is he putting this out there? What’s
the big picture, the overarching
message, that he’s sending?
Consider how the various pieces of
the argument also contribute to the
message. Does this mean
something different coming from
Nike? Coming from Colin
Don’t try to be the fastest runner in
your school… or the fastest in the
world. Be the fastest ever.
There’s some anaphora here.
(Anaphora is a rhetorical device
where the same first words are
repeated … in this case, “the
fastest.”). What’s the effect of this
Further, what’s the effect of this
line on the overarching message?
Why is Kaepernick drawing
distinctions between these different
kinds of goals? What’s his point?
Don’t picture yourself wearing
OBJ’s jersey. Picture OBJ wearing
This is an example of antimetabole.
(Antimetabole is a rhetorical device
where a phrase is repeated in
reverse, for example, “Ask not what
your country can do for you, ask
what you can do for your country.”
Except instead of JFK using
antimetabole, here, Kaepernick is
using it.) What’s the effect of this
rhetorical device in this statement?
There is mounting pathos in this
argument. The speaker continues
to appeal to the audience’s
emotions. How is that true in this
statement? In previous statements?
How does pathos impact the
overarching argument here?
Don’t settle for homecoming queen
or linebacker. Do both.
At this point, it’s clear that the
narrator is creating a running list of
examples. What’s the effect? What
do these examples all have in
common so far? What’s the point
of listing so many of them? Are
there nuances between them? Are
they being listed in any particular
order? Are they each addressing
different slices of a larger audience?
Lose a hundred and twenty pounds
– and become an iron man – after
beating a brain tumor.
Some of these examples become
borderline run-on sentences, as
Kaepernick continues to add more
and more impressive feats to them.
What’s the effect of “running on”
in these examples?
The narrator also continues to
address the audience directly.
These are imperative statements.
He is commanding you to do each
of these things. Why? What’s the
effect of saying it this way, as
opposed to in a more indirect
Don’t believe you have to be like
anybody to be somebody.
If you’re born a refugee, don’t let it
stop you from playing soccer, for
the national team, at age sixteen.
This is the fourth time the narrator
as opened a line with the word
“Don’t.” This is interesting because
(#1) it’s still an imperative
phrase … he’s commanding you to do
something … but, more
importantly, (#2) “don’t” is a
negative. He’s actually
commanding you not to do
something. What’s the difference?
Why not rephrase this as a positive?
This follows a similar pattern as an
earlier statement that runs-on.
What’s the effect of repeating a
rhetorical strategy in the same
narration? Does it have as much
power as it did the first time? Is the
argument strengthened or weakened
by this additional example?
Don’t become the best basketball
This is the fifth time we see a
player on the planet. Be bigger than statement open with “don’t.” And
this, too, opens like a previous
statement (similar to “Don’t try to
be the fastest runner in your
school… or the fastest in the world.
Be the fastest ever”) – but it takes a
different turn. Instead of saying,
“Be the best ever,” he says, “Be
bigger than basketball.” What’s the
effect of setting the reader up to
expect one thing before delivering
another? And, what does it mean
to be “bigger than basketball”…?
Are these examples growing or
changing in some way? Are they
trending into larger and more
significant goals – or, are they all
about equal?
Believe in something. Even if it
means sacrificing everything.
What is the effect of a long pause
between “Believe in something”
and “Even if it means sacrificing
Is this even “bigger” than being
“bigger than basketball”…?
Why use words like “something”
and everything” instead of more
specific or detailed language?
What’s the point of making
suggestions that are fundamentally
difficult to disagree with?
When they talk about the greatest
team in the history in the sport,
make sure it’s your team.
This statement appears to be the
first time the narrator’s examples
become less “intense” from the
prior example. (They seem to get
larger and larger until they peak
with, “Believe in something. Even
if it means sacrificing everything.”).
What’s the effect of this contrast?
Is it significant that the phrase
about being on “the greatest team
in the history of the sport” seems
like a step down from the
ideological power of “believing in
something” at all costs?
If you have only one hand, don’t
just watch football – play it, at the
highest level.
Suddenly, we start to see the
examples become even more
specific. Nike knows that everyone
can relate to the power of believing
in something… but, not everyone
has one hand, and not everyone
plays football. So, what’s the
intended purpose and intended
effect of this statement?
And if you’re a girl from Compton,
don’t just become a tennis player.
Become the greatest athlete ever.
This, too, is similar to the last
statement. How does this shift
impact the argument? How does it
draw the narrative to a close?
What’s the effect?
Yeah. That’s more like it.
This is the first and only time we
hear the speaker break from his
narrative with a satisfied, “Yeah.”
Why does he suddenly appear
satisfied? What is more like it?
And, most importantly, what’s the
intended effect of this line in the
overall argument?
So don’t ask if your dreams are
crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.
This is the last line of the argument,
so it merits some careful analysis.
It’s another antimetabole (known
for being memorable and powerful
rhetorical devices). What’s the
message? The effect? The
Analyzing Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Commercial – Part II (A)
Now that you’ve analyzed the narrative spoken by Colin Kaepernick in Nike’s commercial, it’s clear that this is a
very deliberately crafted argument. But beyond the power of the language, each phrase is accompanied by powerful
visual rhetoric that works to complement the claims being made. (In other words, where a phrase might focus on
evoking feelings of pathos in the audience, a visual image is simultaneously displayed that works to strengthen the
argument by evoking logos, or some other complementary effect.)
Closely read and analyze the phrases below–there are five. And then, closely read and analyze the visual that was
designed to complement it.
Analyze the language!
“If people say your dreams
are crazy…”
Analyze the visual rhetoric!
Discuss how they complement one another!
Analyze the language!
“If they laugh at what you
think you can do…”
Analyze the visual rhetoric!
Discuss how they complement one another!
Analyze the language!
“Don’t settle for homecoming
queen or linebacker. Do
Analyze the visual rhetoric!
Discuss how they complement one another!
Analyze the language!
“Lose a hundred and twenty
pounds and become an iron
man – after beating a brain
Analyze the visual rhetoric!
Discuss how they complement one another!
Analyze the language!
“Don’t become the best
basketball player on the
planet. Be bigger than
Analyze the visual rhetoric!
Discuss how they complement one another!

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