Nike Criticism

This essay has a total of 2531 words and 10 pages.

Nike

Former University of Oregon track coach and co-founder of Nike Bill Bowerman once said:
"If you have a body, you are an athlete!" (NikeBiz) This way of thinking is how Nike
conducts every aspect of their business. Every person is a potential athlete or
"consumer". This is a common term when used in the realm of athletics but when Bill
Bowerman said this it was in direct reference to the shoe industry. From their marketing
strategies to their selling philosophies, Nike has developed one of the most recognizable
and demanded name and logo tandems ever.

Nike, which is the Greek Goddess of Victory, was born in 1972 when BRS, Blue Ribbon
Sports, launched its first branded shoe at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. A
former University of Oregon track team member Phil Knight created Blue Ribbon Sports. At
Oregon, Knight was coached by the legendary Bill Bowerman and then went on to become and
alumni of the Stanford School of Business. BRS was crafted in 1962 when Knight made a deal
with Onitsuka Tiger Company, a Japanese shoe company, to import their shoe to the United
States. Knight had the idea to sell a low cost shoe with a very high quality. Knight had
high aspirations of taking Adidas out the top spot in the athletic shoe market. In 1964,
Bill Bowerman decided to join Knight as a partner at BRS to create a joint quest to be
number one. Bowerman redesigned the Tiger shoes while Knight acted as the
accountant/personal seller and went on the road to sell their newly crafted sneakers at
track meets and local shoe stores. By 1966, Blue Ribbon Sports opened their first store in
Portland, Oregon. Knight and Bowerman managed the store with the only other employee being
a former Stanford runner Jeff Johnson. (story/chrono, 1)

Signing First Endorsers
During 1971, BRS caught a break when a trading company called Nissho Iwai introduced BRS
to important letters of credit. This credit allowed BRS to subcontract its own shoe line
and by 1972 it was selling Nike Brand shoes. Over the next decade Nike expanded almost
double its size each year from the previous year. Nike is officially called Nike in 1978
and has signed on tennis great John McEnroe, New York City marathon champion Alberto
Salazar, women's marathon gold medallist Joan Beniot, and Olympic track star and gold
medallist Carl Lewis. (story/chrono, 1-2) Also during this time Nike is opening
manufacturing plants all over the U.S. Nike was a household name for most athletes by
early 1980's.

Nike's focus was still on track and field and for the most part track athletes were their
target market. One of the first individuals to endorse a Nike product was a man who
exemplified their style and way of conducting business, Steve Prefontaine. Prefontaine was
a household name in the late seventies and has gone down in history as one of the best
American track and field athletes ever. Prefontaine was a friend of Knight and had been
coached by Bowerman at the University of Oregon. Prefontaine embodied what Nike wanted as
its differential advantage of other companies due to his brash attitude, high talent
level, and cavalier mentality. Nike marketed itself as a new and innovative shoe company
that constantly had the athlete's performance in mind unlike existing companies who
focused on their products appearance and durability. Nike infested their market with
bright colors, new styles, and technology information pertaining to their products. This
is why Steve Prefontaine and Nike were a tremendous tandem in the early years of Nike's
existence.

By 1984 Nike had supplanted Adidas as the number one selling running shoe company in
America. But this was not enough for Nike. At this time Nike was known for its attention
to the wants and needs of their market, the individual runner. The Nike Brand itself, and
while Knight and the employees of the company promoted Nike across the country, the
quality, comfort, and design of the shoe were selling the product already. During the
period from 1985-1987, Nike dropped back down to number two in the running of the shoe
market. Sales had dropped off because the running boom of the late 70's and 80's had begun
to diminish. Nike began to notice and entire market that the company had been avoiding,
everyday athletic activities. These activities were things done by everyday people and not
just the serious athlete. Fortunately for Nike, in 1985 their star was brought to light. A
rookie basketball player with amazing talent and a nice smile fell into their lap, his
name is Michael Jordan. (story/chrono, 2)

Michael Jordan
As soon as Nike signed Michael Jordan they began to market a new line of shoes and apparel
with the name AIR JORDAN. This was the beginning of the JORDAN Brand and Jordan's
Jumpman23 products. Featured prominently on each AIR JORDAN product was the Nike insignia,
the swoosh, the product mark which the Jumpman23 and the AIR JORDAN label. Jordan came to
Nike at a time when the marketability of the NBA was increasing. NBA games were being
nationally televised during prime time television hours and weekends. This gave Nike the
perfect platform to develop and market their new star and the products that he endorsed.

During the first few years Nike introduced Jordan to the public and Jordan familiarized
himself with the American public. Nike ran a series of ads with Jordan and film director
Spike Lee. These ads were aired during prime time television hours and were solely
targeted for pre-teen school students. These ads displayed an expressed message to "Stay
in School."(story/mkg_innov, 1) The ads presented kids with a national figure that was
selling both school and Nike's products, how could parents deny their children the shoes
of such a virtuous spokesman? Jordan was a figure that children adored, looked up to and
tried to the best of their ability to copy. Nike used this to display a great positive
image for their company and to sell their products. The ads were also the first by a
company that didn't use the usual 3 a.m. sport for public service announcements. Nike
wanted to be a bold marketer; they aimed for the top promotional sports and developed a
pioneering strategy for their industry. Nike continued to promote Michael Jordan through
their ads and Jordan continued to promote their products.

The introduction of the AIR JORDAN line helped to create new lines of basketball shoes,
including the AIR FORCE and AIR FLIGHT lines of basketball shoes and apparel. Also, a new
innovative technology was a layer of air cushioning in their shoes; this was truly a
differential factor for Nike when placed in comparison with other shoe companies. Nike's
sales jumped to over $3 Billion in total. Nike's AIR JORDAN shoe was the best selling and
most popular basketball shoe on the market. The AIR JORDAN shoe reached a point in the
mid-nineties when a small picture of Michael Jordan at practice wearing different shoes
sparked a booming inquiry all over Chicago. One store alone received over 300 phone calls
asking if they had the shoes in stock. (Katz, 72)

The Jordan Empire
The market Nike in which they wanted to target Jordan towards now was the "athlete of any
age." Nike began to produce sizes from infant on up. Nike created commercials that
glorified Jordan and displayed his humbleness. In the commercials Jordan did things that
young and old people alike always dreamed of doing. Most of the commercials included
Jordan soaring through the air, seeming to be hung form the sky with the chorus, "If I
could be like Mike" playing in the background. Jordan would then drop out of the sky and
dunk the basketball. In one commercial aimed towards younger children, Jordan played the
Warner Brothers Loony Toons Characters. For an older generation Nike created a commercial
where Jordan is on a dimmed basketball court and a booming voice comes in and says, "What
if my name weren't in lights? Can you imagine that? . . I can?" This commercial marketed
Jordan as human being and not the untouchable being that he is sometimes projected to be;
this was aimed to help the average person relate to Jordan. (Katz, 72).

As much as Nike markets Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan markets himself and the products
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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