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Society, as we know it today, would not be able to continue without the everyday use of shoes and clothes. This fact alone puts companies such as Nike in a pretty powerful and much needed position. It is very unlikely to go anywhere without seeing the Nike Swoosh somewhere. However, Nike has not always had the reputation that they have today. In fact before 1971, Nike was not even heard of. It was instead known as the Blue Ribbon Shoe Company, which was founded by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. Bowerman was the track coach at the University of Oregon, later to be the birth place of Nike. He knew of Knight through track and field, and they both had the idea of starting and developing a new athletic shoe. Phil Knight in a Stanford research paper said that “low-priced, high-performance, well-merchandized exports from Japan could replace Germany’s domination of the United States athletic shoe industry.” Knight did not know how right he would later become.
In 1962, Knight traveled to Japan and talked to Onitsuka Tiger Company and convinced them that their shoes would have great success in the United States. He came up with a fake store, Blue Ribbon Shoes, which he claimed to own to assure Tiger shoes of his validity. Upon his return, Bill Bowerman and he opened Blue Ribbon Shoes, donating 500 dollars each to the business. The first 200 shoes arrived in December of 1963, from Japan and were met with some resistance. Bowerman and Knight set out to
various track meets selling the shoes out of the back of their car. Even though some success came from this, they just could not do it on their own.
In 1965 they had to hire Jeff Johnson as Blue Ribbons first full time employee. Johnson knew Knight through track and would prove to be a valuable member of the company. With his help, in 1966, they were able to open the first retail store in Santa Monica, California. The success of this store spawned the opening of another store in Eugene, Oregon in 1968. Bowerman knew however, that the company would have to come up with something new so they could move away from their counterparts in Japan. He did this one day while experimenting with rubber and his wife’s waffle iron.
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Despite the separation from Japan they still had one obstacle to overcome before they could promote their own shoe. But in 1971 Carolyn Davidson took care of it by coming up with the trademark swoosh. They were now ready to market their brand new company. Bowerman believed that they should also change their name before going out to sell their shoes. He came up with the name Dimension 6, which probably would have been used if it was not for Jeff Johnson. One night while sleeping he came up with the name Nike, which means goddess of victory in Greek. This name beat out Bowerman’s and in 1972 Nike was used for Olympians in Eugene, Oregon.
Despite having the company all set up and ready to go, the founders knew that they needed some way to get their shoes heard of in the professional running circuit. The answer to their prayers came in 1973, when Olympian Steve Prefontaine agreed to wear the shoes in his next meet. His success combined with his new shoes put Nike on the fast track through the Olympics. Before long everyone would want a pair of Nike shoes.
Upon reaching the one billion dollar mark in shoe sales, Nike wanted to bring out a new component in their industry. With the help of John Mcenroe in 1978, Nike was able to advertise and disperse their new clothing line throughout the tennis community. With this underway they started seeking ways to improve their already wide used Nike shoes. Nike hired Frank Rudy, a previous NASA employee, to help them come up with some new innovation for their company. He was able to create the first air filled shoes called the Tailwinds in 1979. Upon the arrival of this new shoe Nike knew it was time to sell the company to the public. In 1980 they put 2,377,000 shares of their corporation on the stock market, completing their total merger from Blue Ribbon Shoes to Nike Inc.
From this point on the company would continue to grow into a huge corporation owning 18,000 retail accounts and operating in 140 countries worldwide. They achieved this by launching huge marketing campaigns and using celebrities to bring immediate appeal to their products. For example, in 1985 they used a rookie in the NBA to market a new shoe. This shoe became known as the Air Jordan and was worn by Michael Jordan. By using the fame of Jordan they were able to sell their shoes to millions. With this underway Nike would soon come out with their own clothing line. However, they were not going to stop here. Bill Bowerman’s starting idea was “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Nike was not going to stop until they had fulfilled the task that was ahead of them.
Nike, once again, would turn to the celebrities to help advertise their product. Today this can be seen every time a professional sporting event is on television. For example, on every Broncos jersey there is a Nike swoosh. By Nike paying the Broncos to wear their jersey they ensure that millions of Americans will see their logo every Sunday. Nike also took advantage of one of our newest superstars. When Tiger Woods hit the pro golf circuit Nike quickly jumped to sponsor him in return for him using their golf products. By marketing in this way Nike knows that millions will be turned on to their product and will be able to sell it world-wide.
Obviously this form of marketing has worked, last year alone Nike did over ten billion dollars in sales making a substantial profit. Shares of Nike stock also sell for nearly forty dollars a share. Nike, however, does not accomplish this by manufacturing their shoes here in the United States, where they would be forced to pay American wages. Instead, they send their shoes over seas where they can be produced as cheaply as possible. By doing this Nike is able to maximize their profits, making shoes cheaply and being able to sell them at a high price. Based on the prices in last months East bay catalog, Nike shoes can range in price anywhere from thirty dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars. Imagine the amount of money made when these shoes can be made for just a couple of dollars. This is why Nike can afford to pay their top executives millions of dollars a year.
The knowledge of the co-founders has perhaps, set forth an even more prosperous future for the company. The need for shoes and clothing in the entire world guarantees that Nike will be able to continue production and distribution of their products. However, a few other sporting good companies are savagely competing to take over Nike’s business. Companies such as Addidas, And One, and Reebok are all becoming more and more dominant in the sporting world today. They are even using big name athletes to promote their products just like Nike has been doing. For example, Reebok has been using Allen Iverson and And One uses Vince Carter as a way to promote their shoes to the masses. By doing this they are trying to gain acceptance in the sporting goods department and hopefully be able to gain the upper position that Nike seems to have.
A common question asked about these shoes is what is the difference between buying Nikes and buying Adidas? The answer is that there really is no difference, it all comes down to personal preference and what the stars use. With this being true, it seems that whoever gets the biggest star to endorse their product will become the number one leader in shoes sales. All companies are out there trying to grab the next Michael Jordan and pay him or her to endorse their company. This can be seen in the case of Lebron James who is still in high school. He has been told that he will be the next great basketball star and the major shoe companies are arguing over who will get him. Regardless of who does, critics believe that it will be the largest shoe deal in history and James will come out of it making a pretty penny.
Due to this competition between companies Nike has been forced to come up with new innovations that will continue to lead the way. So far they are succeeding and continue to be the champion in all shoe sales. Because of the security the employees have at Nike, due to the need for shoes, the company would be a great place to get a job. Not only would a person be needed all the time but they would be a part of a great
company. Also, for those avid sportsmen it would be a great way to be around sports even if they are not good enough to make it themselves. Perhaps they might be the recruiter who has to go out and convince the next all time great that their shoe is better than the rest of them. Not only would this job be fun and exciting, it would also be rewarding. Nike has undergone such an enormous transformation from a track shoe company to a more all around apparel company that it would be hard to not be able to find a part of the company that just fits the individual person. Whether that be marketing or accounting, nearly anyone could find their calling at a major company like Nike. Statistics also show that over the past year with the economy down, revenue still seems to be increasing and the stock is even on its way back up.
From its humble beginnings in Eugene, Oregon, Nike has grown and transformed into a multi billion dollar company that the majority of the world is familiar with. Bowerman and Knight were able to turn a dream into a reality with some personality and one thousand dollars. They both took a chance and were rewarded heavily. They developed a company that has grown and will continue to grow into the future. The shoe and clothing industry is one in which will never go away. It is so much a part of out life that being without it is just unimaginable. The security that this provides for a well known company provides an excellent job opportunity. The atmosphere in which Nike operates provides the ideal workplace for many Americans. Nike has a job that will fit nearly everyone. They have been able to withstand the test of time and have continued to grow even when times were not so good. They have provided more than just a great shoe and numerous jobs, giving us something to look forward to. It is exciting to see what new shoe your favorite athlete will be wearing and who will be the next Tiger Woods. Nike has given the sporting world a source of togetherness or a common link that it has always needed. With the technology of today and the possibilities of the future I believe we should be prepared for some innovative things to come out of Nike, and should be prepared for the Nike of the future.