Nike’s seeds were sown in Oregon, the USA, by Phil Knight, a middle-distance runner and accounting student at the University of Oregon, and his coach Bill Bowerman. Their friendship changed not only their relationship to sports, but also the technology of producing sports shoes and apparel, and the way in which sports brands promote themselves.
In 1962, having completed his studies, Knight went on a trip around the world. During his stay in Japan, he took up an ambition he had shared with Bill Bowerman - to start importing Japanese running shoes at affordable prices into the US. Knight contacted Onitsuka Tiger. When he was put on the spot and asked about his company, he bluffed his way through and said that he represented Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) - the first 200 pairs arrived in the US in December 1963. This was a turning point, and with Knight and Bowerman having invested around $500 each, the company rapidly gained a great reputation with college athletes. Before long, Bowerman was dreaming of ways to improve the design of Onitsuka shoes, and Knight was dreaming of how much more profitable it would be to produce and sell their own shoes.
In 1971, a company employee, Jeff Johnson, thought up the name Nike (apparently while he slept), after the Greek goddess of victory. Caroline Davidson, who met Knight when she was a student attending the same university, was asked to design a logo. She came up with the now world-renowned swoosh - the Nike name and brand were born.
In 1972, following a split from Onitsuka Tiger, the Moon Shoe debuted at the US Olympic Trials. A year later, the middle-distance runner Steve Prefontaine became the first major athlete to wear Nike shoes. In 1974, Bowerman dreamt of a new innovation for the outsole, made by pouring rubber into a waffle iron to create a waffle outsole (go to the Waffle Trainer on page 100 to see how that simple experiment spawned one of the greatest sneaker designs). By 1978, Nike had started to sell its products internationally.
Kenyan marathon runner Henry Reno broke four world records wearing Nike shoes. Tennis ace John McEnroe started to wear Nike products,broadening the brand’s visual appeal in the tennis arena. In 1979, the Taiiwind shoe became the first running shoe to be launched with a patented air sole. In 1985, Michael Jordan signed with Nike as a rookie, and a whole new line of shoe apparel was created. The Air Jordan basketball shoe became one of the world’s most popular sneakers.
The Nike Air Max was brought out in 1987, along with Nike’s first multipurpose shoe, the Air Trainer . Both catapulted Nike ahead of the competition. The brand has continued to be a leader in sports design and innovation, and has been endorsed by many of the world’s most famous sports stars, including Andre Agassi, Ronaldo and Tiger Woods.
Nike’s strengths are threefold: an undoubted intuitive sense of what athletes want and need (something that goes all the way back to the track in Oregon), a commitment to technical innovation, and an attitude and outlook towards branding and marketing that has changed the way sports shoes and apparel are promoted forever.
By : Ray - http://www.miniseen.blogspot.com
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