History Of Nike
Did you know that the history of Nike, the most successful athletic outfitter in the world, begins with Phil Knight selling shoes out of the back of his pick-up truck for two dollars a pair? Nike, which literally means "victory" (after the winged Greek Goddess) was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports.
It all started with two men (now legendary in Track and Field), Coach Bill Bowerman and his runner, Phil Knight. Bowerman was constantly trying to find ways to make his runners more competitive and Knight was trying to make a living and stay in the sport he loved. Knight had just completed a Masters thesis about outsourcing shoe production to Japan, to be distributed in the United States, thereby creating a quality product and cutting production costs. When he proposed his business model to Bowerman, only hoping for support, Bowerman offered him partnership.
Bowerman envisioned making a running shoe out of the same material which was used to make the track; one day he had the notion of pouring liquid urethane into his wife's waffle iron. The result was a lighter shoe with more traction, later to be known as the "waffle design." Bowerman began experimenting with different potential outer soles that would grip the new urethane track more effectively. He wanted his athletes to have a light shoe, "as light as if I drove nails through your bare feet," he once said. When Bowerman was first starting out, the University of Oregon didn't have lofty scholarships for athletes, nor did they have free training gear.
With Bowerman's innovation and Knight's business talent, they quickly drew profits- so many that they started calling themselves Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) and opened their first retail store, in 1966 in Santa Monica, California. They outfitted and tested their products on the University of Oregon track team. As profits continued to grow, BRS introduced its first line of Nike shoes with the classic "swoosh" on the side. The swoosh was designed by Carolyn Davidson and was intended to represent the wing of the Greek Goddess. When Davidson first presented her design to Knight he replyed with, "I don't love it, but I think it will grow on me."
In 1978, BRS officially changed its name to Nike. Distance track and field legend, Steve Prefontaine (also coached by Bowerman) was the first runner to be sponsored by Nike. Pre, who has been labeled the "soul of Nike,' died tragically at age 24, precluding what many say would have been an "unparalleled" career in track. But as it goes, Prefontaine "lives on" and has been labeled the “soul of Nike.” Pre's successful promotion of Nike is what eventually made the professional sponsorship of athletes popular. After Pre, Nike sponsored many other track & field athletes such as Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Sebastian Coe.
Nike continues to sponsor many elite athletes which is a main source of their marketing campaigns.