Fact Check

Did Ford Make Colin Kaepernick the Face of Their New Ad Campaign?

A joke posted to the political humor section of Reddit was mistaken as genuine news by a number of social media users.

Published Sep 10, 2018

Ford USA announced in September 2018 that Colin Kaepernick would star in their new "Built Ford Tough" advertisements.

As social media users sorted through a flurry of news articles, opinion pieces, calls for boycotts, and other hot takes in September 2018 about Colin Kaepernick's involvement in a new Nike ad campaign, some stumbled across what appeared to be a news article reporting that Ford USA was following Nike's example by making the former NFL quarterback the face of their new ad campaign:

This item was not a social media link to a genuine news article, nor did the featured image show a genuine Ford advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick. This item was created as a joke for the political humor section of the Reddit social news site.

Kaepernick became a controversial figure in 2016 when he started kneeling during the pre-game performance of the U.S. national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. A number of conservative football fans, including President Trump, maintained that Kaepernick's protest was disrespectful to veterans, so when Nike announced that the former football star would be featured in their latest ad campaign, social media users urged each other to boycott the brand and started posting images purportedly showing them destroying various pieces of Nike apparel.

Twitter user @Patterico apparently found the videos of people burning their shoes to be amusing but noted that the entertainment value would increase if people were burning Ford F-150 trucks instead:

Reddit user u/fakenewsanchorman saw this tweet and decided to create a fake news item (note the username) stating that Ford USA had indeed named Kaepernick as their new brand ambassador. On 5 September 2018, his meme was posted to the Political Humor subreddit under the title "Please Make This Actually Happen."

That Reddit user admitted in the comments section that his image did not reflect a genuine news item, but we double-checked with FoxNews.com to see if reporter Judson Berger had filed any such report. This article does not appear on Berger's author page nor anywhere else on the Fox News web site.

This bit of fake news may have sparked sparked interest in a genuine, albeit outdated, article about Ford's stance on the national anthem protests. In September 2017, the company officially took the side of the protesting players, saying that they respected the "individuals' right to express their views":

"We respect individuals' rights to express their views, even if they are not ones we share," the company said. "That's part of what makes America great" ...

Martha Firestone Ford, owner and chairwoman of the Detroit Lions and a member of the Ford family, issued a statement criticizing President Trump for his comments.

"Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation," she said. "Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions."


Abad-Santos, Alex.   "Why the Social Media Boycott Over Colin Kaepernick Is a Win for Nike."     Vox.   6 September 2018.

Sandritter, Mark.   "A Timeline of Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest and the Athletes Who Joined Him."     SB Nation.   25 September 2017.

Wiener-Bronner, Danielle.   "Ford: We Respect the Right of NFL Players to Protest."     CNN.   25 September 2017.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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