Air Max, Air Trainer, Air Force 1, Air Jordan, Internationalist, Bruin, Vandal, SB, Blaze, Daybreak, Huarache, Air Presto, Vapormax, React Flyknit, Zoom 2K, etc… We all know, have seen or have taken any of the models of this great giant of the sports industry. Trying to explain the story of NIKE (pronounce correctly “NAIKI”) is both difficult and complex, but at the same time exciting and fun. Surely, many of us have known NIKE as the great multinational that is today, in the 21st century, but to understand NIKE it is necessary to know its history.
Nike, Inc., formerly (1964–78) called Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), an American sportswear company based in Beaverton, Oregon, was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman, an athletic trainer at the University of Oregon, and his former student and middistance runner Phil Knight.Both joined forces to import low-cost high-tech sneakers from Japan to compete as an alternative to the German-dominated sports shoe market. Under the name Blue Ribbon Sports, Bowerman and Knight began selling the Japanese Onitsuka Tiger sneakers (now known as ASICS). Jeff Johnson, a former rival on Knight’s track, joins the company in 1965 as the first full-time salesman, selling in the back of his pickup truck at local and regional meetings until he opens Blue Ribbon Sports’ first outlet at 3107 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica California. Johnson, in addition to selling, was in charge of the brand’s artistic direction and designed the first product brochures, print ads and marketing materials, and even took the photographs for the company’s catalogs.
Around 1967 due to increased sales, BRS expanded its distribution to the East Coast, namely wellesley, Massachussets.
The relationship between japanese firm Onitsuka Tiger and BRS was virtually broken and on May 30, 1971, SBS officially became Nike Inc. (after a premonitory dream of Jeff Johnson, as Knight wanted to rename it Dimension 6) and were already working on launching their own line of sneakers, Nike Cortez (famous also thanks to the Forrest Gump film). In fact, a year later, Onitsuka Tiger filed a lawsuit against Nike for plagiarating its Tiger Corsair model. It was eventually resolved in favor of Nike and both brands were allowed to sell their own version, this being the best-selling model of each of them.
For that release, Knight, whose main demand was for the logo to transmit movement, was supported by the student, Carolyn Davidson, who designed the famous Swoosh logo. Carolyn Davidson claims that it relied on the wing of the Greek goddess “Niké” to design the dynamic symbol we know today. The “Swoosh” logo was first used in June of that year and was subsequently registered in 1974.
It is always highlighted as an anecdote that Phil Knight only paid Davidson $35 for his design. Later, in 1983, Knight gave Davidson a gold ring and an envelope filled with NIKE stocks in gratitude and bonus for his work done.
In those times, interaction with athletes, whether professionals or the numerous American Universities, was sought to know first hand the needs, advice, doubts and opinions of those who practiced daily sport, whether beginners or professionals. It was about looking for new methods with which to increase the performance of athletes. During those early years all kinds of materials, adjustments, parts, shapes and colors were tested…
In 1972, taking advantage of the highest selection tests for the Munich Olympics being held in Eugene, Oregon, the birthplace of Nike, Bowerman and Knight promoted their brand among the different athletes to gain greater visibility, they stand out as historical figures such as Kenny Moore, Frank Shorter, Jeff Galloway and Mark Covert. At the time, Bowerman was working on a design to improve grip on the track and one of the vendors proposed Covert to try it out in a race. At the time, Bowerman was working on a design to improve grip on the track and one of the vendors proposed Covert to try it out in a race. And, that’s how the Design of the Waffle sole saw the light, even though Covert came in seventh place (over the years Covert became Nike’s first manager in Orange County). Since then, every four years, the Oregon firm has always, or almost always, attended the Olympic event with an innovation under its arm: Free, Air Zoom, Lunarlon, Flykint, …
Subsequently, for their first advertising campaign they hired the agency John Brown and partners who in 1977 released “There is no finish line”. The poster was an instant hit with consumers and has become legendary in the design industry for virtually influencing Nike’s advertising spirit.
Around 1980, Nike had already obtained 50% of the sports sector. He then hired Dan Weider, who coined the famous slogan “Just Do It” for a Nike advertising campaign in 1988, which was chosen by Advertising Age as one of the five most important slogans of the 20th century and enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution.Walt Stack appeared in this first ad that premiered on July 1, 1988.A scammy fact is that the motto is inspired by the last words spoken by Utah assassin Gary Gilmore, “Let’s do it,” just before its execution.
The 1980s marked a turning point in the Oregon brand, which gradually launched worldwide fame with its innovative and exclusive designs and impressive advertising campaigns. Stock market entry, contracts with stars like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant or Lebron James, its acquisition business operations like Hurley or Converse, being the official provider of the NFL or NBA,are just some of the achievements this giant has achieved and that we’ll talk about in the next post. You can’t miss it.