Nike, the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel, was the birth-child of University of Oregon coach Bill Bowerman and runner Phil Knight. Founded in January 25, 1964 the company was originally named Blue Ribbon Sports and was a distributor for Japanese shoemaker Onitsuka Tiger. The company truly came from humble beginnings as Knight sold their products from his car during track meets.
During that same year, the company reached a healthy profit of $8,000 and in two short years, Bowerman and Knight opened its first retail store along Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, California. In 1971, Blue Ribbon Sports severed its ties with Onitsuka Tiger and decided to create their own line of footwear.
In the summer of the same year, they released their first shoe which carried the famous “Swoosh” design called Nike, a name inspired by the Greek goddess of victory. With the popularity of their first sneaker, Blue Ribbon Sports released its first line of Nike Shoes in 1972; however it was not until 1978 when the founders officially named the company Nike.
Nike’s first original product was derived from Bowerman’s “Waffle” design. Bowerman conceived of different outsoles that would grip nicely to the new urethane track of the Hayward Field of the University of Oregon. Then, one Sunday morning, he got the ingenious idea of pouring liquid urethane into his wife’s waffle iron. This experiment became the forerunner of Bowerman’s famous 1974 Waffle Trainer.
After just 16 years in the biz, Nike dominated over 50% of the market share in the US athletic shoe market. As a result, Nike went public in December 1980. The company attributes its marketing success to its “word of foot” (taken from a Nike slogan in the late 1970s) style of advertising, rather than expensive television commercials.
In October 1982, the company aired its first national television ad during the New York Marathon broadcast. The ad was created by Wieden & Kennedy, an agency based in Portland, Oregon. Dan Wieden, co-founder of the ad agency, was the one who thought of Nike’s famous slogan, “Just Do It,” which was used in a 1988 Nike campaign. The slogan, considered as one of the top five slogans of the 20th century, debuted in print media in July 1, 1988 on the pages of the San Franciscan Walt Stack.
Now, Nike is the leading authority in sports equipment. Nike products range from track running shoes, jerseys, shorts, and base layers for athletes from different sport disciplines such as basketball, baseball, football, volleyball, tennis, golf, cycling, track and field, wrestling, lacrosse, and cheerleading. By diversifying their product line, the company was able to peruse a wide range of athletic sponsorships for a different array of sports. Some notable Nike endorsers include basketball legend Michael Jordan, tennis champion Roger Federer and golf star Tiger Woods.
Nike has also produced urban fashion clothing which has been popular with the youth. Recently, Nike has collaborated with Apple to come up a device which monitors a runner’s accomplishment through a radio device in the shoe which networks with the iPod nano.
Apart from popular products such as the Michael Jordan line, Nike has come up with special shoes for extreme sports such as skateboarding. Also the company’s innovative attitude toward footwear design and composition continues to flourish with Nike’s latest development of weight reducing components: the Flywire and Lunarlite foam.
True to its roots, Nike’s continues to run their 200-acre world headquarters near their birth home of Beaverton, Oregon. Their headquarters consist of 17 buildings each named after long-standing Nike endorsers like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Mia Hamm.
Outside its manufacturing prowess, Nike is famous for being one of the three environmental-friendly companies in the world. In its quest for athletic development, Nike launched the SPARQ training program in 2004. It is heralded as one of the best training divisions in the U.S.
During 40 years in the industry, Nike has transformed from a small footwear company into a global business giant. Over the years the corporation has acquired several apparel enterprises such as Cole Haan, Hurley International, Converse Inc. and Umbro. With all of its accomplishments in the athletic apparel industry and the world market, it is no wonder why Nike continues to be the innovator business.