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How Nike Became an International Icon and Leader in Sports Shoes

History Of Nike

The history of Nike goes back to 1963-64, when Phil Knight,a mid-distance runner, and Bill Bowerman, a track coach,set up a company called Blue Ribbon Sports, and began to import and sell high-tech running shoes from Japan.

The business started trading as a retail outlet and continued selling Japanese running shoes until 1970.

Bill Bowerman was determined that his company ought to be able to manufacture better running shoes than the Japanese and knew that their own products could cost less than imported running shoes.

When he experimented with some rubber and a waffle iron, Bill Bowerman came up with what was to be known as the Nike Waffle Outsole.

When these running shoes began to go into production,the company salesman, Jeff Johnson, came up with the idea to name the brand after the goddess of victory in ancient Greek mythology.

Bowerman and Knight continued to develop the waffle outsole and together they introduced more high-tech running shoes under the Nike brand.

The instantly recognizable “swoosh” logo was created for Nike in 1971 by a graphic design student at Portland University.

Carolyn Davidson was initially paid $35 for the logo, but she was also employed by Nike to work on their advertising campaigns, until these were handed over to an agency.

She was later gifted some Nike stock in recognition of her contribution to its branding and corporate identity.

Air technology was first introduced into the Nike range in 1979. The patented cushioning system, invented by M. Frank Rudy, involved the insertion of gas pockets in to the sole of a running shoe and it was initially used in the production of the Tail wind shoe.

Nike Shoes

The first Air Force 1 basketball court shoe was designed and went into production in 1982. Basketball legend Michael Jordan was signed up by Nike for product endorsement and, in 1984, the Air Jordan shoe was launched.

Initially this shoe was banned by the NBA, which created a huge amount of publicity for Nike.

The Air-Max range, using more advanced cushioning with air-technology, was introduced in 1987 and was promoted with an advertising campaign that featured a song by The Beatles.

In 1989 in athlete Bo Jackson began promoting a new training shoe for Nike. The “Just do it” slogan was first used in 1988 and the first of the Nikeland stores was launched in 1990.

The company received several awards for the design and business operation of its retail outlets and the flagship Niketown New York store was opened in 1996.

A Reuse-a-show program was set up by Nike in 1991, as an innovative idea for recycling rubber soled shoes. In 1998 Nike established a social responsibility program, covering education, factory conditions and micro-loans.

Converse Shoes, a former rival to Nike, was acquired by the company for $305 million in 2003. By then Nike had become an internationally success and was rapidly developing into a global brand.

In 2004 William D. Perez replaced Phil Knight asCEO, with Knight continuing in his role as Nike Chairman. Bill Bowerman haddied in 1999 at the age of 88.

A famous lawsuit was taken out against Nike in 2004 for plagiarism. Cartoonist Zhu Zhiqianq wonhis case againstNike for using stick figures intheir commercials.

Nike had denied the allegations but the company was ordered to pay the cartoonist $36,000.The company earned more than $13 in revenue that year.

The twentieth edition of the Jordan Air Force 1 basketball shoe was launched in 2005. It was named Air Jordan XX.

In the same year the company brought out a new line to be known as Nike Considered. This eco-friendly rangewas designed to cut down on waste.

Nike has continued signing up sporting superstars to promote its ranges, including the top Brazilian soccer team in 1996 and US golfer Tiger Woods.

In 2003 Nike recruited LeBron James, a high school basketball star, and for the Jordan range Camelo Anthony was signed up as a university team star player.

In 2002 a rap song about Air Force Ones, written and performed by Nelly, went to the top of the US Music charts.

Final Thoughts

Nike now dominates the world market for sports shoes, clothing and equipment, and the brand is known as an international style icon.