Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) which would later become Nike was founded in 1964 by Phil Knight, an athlete from the University of Oregon, and Bill Bowerman who was his coach. The initial capital of Nike amounted to $1,200 and in their first year they had sales of $8,000. At the beginning, Nike didn’t manufacture any shoes. In fact, it distributed a Japanese company’s shoes. The company was Onitsuka Tiger. It wasn’t until 1973, nine years later that the company changed its named to Nike.
Origin of Nike
The famous Swoosh logo was designed by graphic designer Carolyn Davidson in 1971. It wasn’t until three years later that the Swoosh was patented and the company changed its name to Nike. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t Phil Knight nor Bill Boweman who came up with the name. It was their first full-time employee Jeff Johnson. Nike comes from Greek mythology. It is the Greek goddess representing victory.
The first shoes made by Nike itself were manufactured in a waffle iron. This was after Bowerman had the idea of coming up with a grooved sole pattern that would help track athletes have more grip when running when he was making waffles with his wife in 1971.
Just Do It
The iconic Just Do It slogan has a dark history. It was inspired by a serial killer who just before being executed in 1977 said “let’s do it”. This was known only until 2009 in a documentary about Art and History. The first marketing campaign using the Just Do It slogan was done in 1988 when an ad was launched featuring Walt Stack, a veteran runner jogging through the Golden Gate Bridge. The Just Do It slogan has been cataloged as one of the best 5 ad slogans in the past century.
In 1980, Nike achieved a 50% market share in the U.S. beating its main competitor Adidas. Later on, the company’s stock were offered publicly and could be traded in the market. Nike’s growing capital and abundant cash-flow has allowed it to purchase the following companies:
– Cole Haan (1988)- Bauer Hockey (1994)- Hurley International (2002)- Converse (2003)- Starter (2004)- Umbro (2008)
The first professional athlete endorsed by Nike was tennis player Ilie Nastase. Famous track runners sponsored by Nike include Steve Prefontaine, Carl Lewis, and Sebastian Coe.
It is interesting to note that Michael Jordan is the athlete with the largest earnings coming from a Nike deal. He currently makes around $60 million a year, even though he quit basketball more than 10 years ago.
Famous football players that have had Nike endorsements include Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, and Thierry Henry among others.
In the 1990s, Nike was victim of many attacks by human right protectors. The Nike sweatshops, which are factories in which Nike products are made providing poor conditions to laborers in China, Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Famous film maker Michael Moore has exposed them in his documentaries. Child labor allegations as well as abusive conduct on behalf of supervisors have also been reported.
Nike has launched a pair of campaigns to protect the environment. In fact, it was ranked on the third spot in the most climate friendly companies in the world by Clean Air Cool Planet, a UK environmental organization. Nike also has a Reuse program in which old Nike shoes are collected and recycled to make surfaces for basketball courts, etc.
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