Nike's polarizing ad featuring Colin Kaepernick almost didn't happen, as the brand nearly cut ties with the free agent quarterback months before their 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign got started.

According to a story in the The New York Times, Nike marketers reportedly decided to cancel the contract with Kaepernick, who had been with Nike since 2011, because he wasn't on an NFL roster and keeping him as a sponsor could harm the brand's relationship with the NFL, of which Nike is a partner. 

However, Nigel Powell, Nike's chief communications officer, “went ballistic” and argued that abandoning Kaepernick could lead to repercussions in the media as well as with consumers. The NY Times reports Nike executives, in collaboration with Nike’s longtime ad agency Wieden and Kennedy, then decided to position themselves alongside Kaepernick in his fight for social justice.

The result: Kaepernick was named the face of Nike's viral "Dream Crazy" campaign which debuted earlier this month.

In a call with investors on Tuesday, Nike Inc. chairman, president and CEO Mark Parker revealed that the brand has seen "record engagement" since the Kaepernick ad aired. "We know it's resonated actually quite strongly with consumers obviously here in North America but also around the world,'' Parker said in a call with investors Tuesday. "Its' driving a real uptick I think in traffic and engagement both socially as well as commercially. We've seen record engagement with brand as part of the campaign.''