Nike: Just Do It.

July 12, 2020

Nike’s 239 U.S. Retail Store Locations

On January 25, 1964, Bill Bowerman, track coach at the University of Oregon, and one of his athletes, Phil Knight, founded Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS).  Operating primarily out of Knight’s car, BRS made most of its sales of Onitsuka Tiger shoes at track meets.

In its first year in business, BRS sold 1,300 pairs of Japanese running shoes grossing $8,000 and by the following year sales had reached $20,000. In 1966, BRS opened its first retail store in Santa Monica, California. With sales increasing in 1967, BRS expanded retail and distribution operations on the East Coast, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

In 1971 BRS ended its relationship with Onitsuka and prepared to launch its own line of footwear which would be branded as Nike and would bear the new swoosh logo designed by Carolyn Davidson.
But, more about that later.

The original Nike shoe.

Blue Ribbon Sports was renamed Nike, Inc., in 1978 and went public two years later. By the early 2000’s, Nike had retail outlets and distributors in more than 170 countries, and its logo, the swoosh—was recognized throughout the world.

By 1980, the business was flourishing and Nike owned a 50 percent share in the U.S. athletic shoe market. The company went public that year.

Throughout the 1980s, Nike expanded its product line and opened retail stores throughout the world. 

Nike’s eight-building World Headquarters campus in Beaverton, Oregon, was opened in 1990.

The Nike campus, with a lake in the center, includes the Tiger Woods Center which serves as a conference center used by athletes and businesses connecting with Nike. The sports fields, fitness facilities, and a small museum merge with abundant offices and a state-of-the-art research lab. The campus was designed and built according to LEED Platinum certification with natural daylighting, passive chilled beams, closed-loop greywater treatment, and more.

Endorsements from some of the world’s top athletes, such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm and Roger Federer, have played a huge roll in Nike’s success.

On June 30, 2016, Phil Knight stepped down
from all duties with the company.

Throughout the years, Nike has bought and sold several apparel and footwear companies, including  Cole Haan; Bauer Hockey; Hurley International; Converse; Starter; and Umbro.

In November 2019,
Nike stopped selling through Amazon,
focusing more on face-to-face
relationships with customers.

Wanting to refocus its business lines, Nike began divesting of some of its subsidiaries in the 2000s, beginning with Starter in 2007 and Bauer Hockey in 2008. The company sold Umbro in 2012 and Cole Haan in 2013. As of 2020, the only subsidiary owned by Nike is Converse, Inc.

Business is bustling in the Nike labs as they continue to produce a broad spectrum of sports shoes, apparel and equipment. Although the Nike business began with just a pair of track shoes, they now produce a wide range of shoes, jerseys, shorts, cleats, base layers, and more. Whatever the sport, be it track and field, running, combat sports, baseball, ice hockey, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, skateboarding, cycling, volleyball, cheerleading, golf, athletics, wrestling, aquatics, cross-training or cricket, Nike makes what the athletes need. 

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Volt: the fastest shoe Nike has ever made.

Believe it or not, on July 23, 2019, a pair of Nike Inc. running shoes sold for $437,500 at a Sotheby’s auction. The Moon Shoes were designed by Nike co-founder and track coach Bill Bowerman for runners participating in the 1972 Olympics trials. So who would pay almost a half-million dollars for a pair of shoes? Well, that would be Canadian investor and car collector, Miles Nadal, who had also just paid $850,000 for a group of 99 pairs of rare or limited collection sports shoes.

Let’s get back to the swoosh…

In 1971, with a tight deadline in mind, Nike’s co-founder, Phil Knight, asked Portland State University graphic design student, Carolyn Davidson, to design a logo for Nike. Davidson came up with a number of concepts before Knight finally chose the swoosh to be Nike’s logo. She was paid $2 per hour, a grand pay cheque of $35, for designing one of the world’s most recognizable icons. But, there’s more! In 1983, Nike had a party for Davidson at which they presented her with a ring bearing a swoosh-shaped diamond. As an added surprise, they gave her 500 Nike shares.

How did Nike get its name…
Nike is named after the ancient Greek Goddess of victory, Nike.

Greek Goddess Of Victory

The wings of Goddess Nike are called swoosh and are said to have motivated warriors heading to the battlefield.

Last, but not least, let’s talk about Nike’s slogan…
Nike’s iconic slogan, JUST DO IT, has a rather strange story attached to it. Dan Wieden, founder of the Wieden & Kennedy agency, credits his inspiration for the slogan to the notorious killer, Gary Gilmore, whose last words before his execution were Let’sDo It. The slogan was chosen by Advertising Age as one of the top five ad slogans of the 20th century and is immortalized in the Smithsonian Institution. The slogan often appears next to the Nike swoosh logo.

Nike currently employees 71,000 in the United States and approximately 210,000 world-wide.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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