Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem in 2016. In this picture, a Nike sd featuring American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick is on display Sept. 8, 2018, in New York City. Nike's new ad campaign featuring Kaepernick, the American football player turned activist against police violence, took a strong stance on a divisive issue which could score points with millennials but risks alienating conservative customers. ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

Nike faced backlash on social media after they released their new marketing campaign with controversial ex-NFL star Colin Kaepernick earlier this month, but despite the criticism the American sportswear giant reported an increase in sales during the Labor Day weekend.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was unveiled as the face of Nike’s new advertising campaign earlier this month just prior to the start of the new NFL season, which saw the company face criticism on social media with number of Americans calling for a boycott on the sports manufacturer’s products.

Kaepernick became a controversial figure in American sport after he became the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and perceived racial injustice.

It was believed Nike’s sales were set to take a hit after the Kaepernick campaign after a number of social media users posted pictures of them destroying their shoes and other sporting apparel.

President Donald Trump, who has been a vocal critic of players kneeling during the national anthem, also questioned Nike following the release of the marketing campaign featuring the quarterback.

“What was Nike thinking?” President Trump wrote via his personal Twitter account, adding to the social media backlash directed toward the American apparel and sports equipment manufacturer.

However, the campaign or the social media criticism did not seem to affect the company with Market Watch reporting Nike’s sales surged since the campaign debuted Sept. 3.

"Online sales actually grew 31 percent from the Sunday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday, as compared with a 17 percent gain recorded for the same period of 2017,” according to San Francisco–based Edison Trends, via TIME.

“There was speculation that the Nike/Kaepernick campaign would lead to a drop in sales, but our data over the last week does not support that theory,” said Edison Trends co-founder, Hetal Pandya.

Meanwhile, the trend of kneeling during the national anthem started by Kaepernick in 2016 continued into the first Sunday of the 2018-19 NFL season with Miami Dolphins duo Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson kneeling during the anthem ahead of their game against the Tennessee Titans.

The former 49ers quarterback took to Twitter to thank the Dolphins duo for their show of support and suggesting “Love is at the root of their resistance.”

“My Brothers @kstills and @ithinkisee12 continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed! They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward!” Kaepernick wrote.

Trump continued his criticism of the NFL and the players’ kneeling for the anthem and suggested the viewership decline could be arrested if they stood and respected the flag.

“Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison,” Trump tweeted via his personal account. “Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!”