A Brief History of the Nike Company

How Nike Came About

Nike Inc., once known as Blue Ribbon Sports during the years 1964 to 1978, is an American Sportswear Company. In 1964 it was founded and named Blue Ribbon Sports. It’s founder, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. Bill was a track and field coach at Oregon University, and Phil was a former student of Bills.

It all began in 1962 when Phil went to Japan to attend business school and reached out to a Japanese Company that produced athletic shoes. The company was called the Onitsuka Tiger Company. In order to establish a good business relationship and set up a business transaction with Onitsuka Tiger Company, Phil invented Blue Ribbon Sports.

Phil received his first shipment of 200 pairs of athletic shoes from Onitsuka at the end of 1963. Phil then stored the shoes in his Dad’s basement and starting selling them at various track meets. Phil did so well with the shoe sales that his former track and field coach, Bill, partnered with Phil by matching Phil’s original investment of $500. Bill worked closely with track and field runners and designed a shoe called the Cortez and took off in 1968. Their very first retail store was opened in 1966 in Santa Monica, California, next to a beauty salon.

In 1972 they launched the Brand of shoes called Nike. In 1980 the company went public after it was renamed Nike, Inc. in 1978. Nike, Inc. grew very quickly, having distributors and retail stores in more than 170 countries. Nike’s logo, the curved check mark known as the “swoosh” became known worldwide.

Nike Expanded to Include Sports Clothing

Since the company’s inception, Nike has acquired many other shoe companies (Cole Hann and Converse), sporting equipment (Canstar Sports, Inc), athletic apparel, and equipment (Umbro), companies to create a much more diversified product line. Nike sold Cole Hann in 1988, Converse in 2003, Canstar Sports, Inc. also known as Bauer, in 2008 and Umbro in 2012.

Nike ACG

Nike’s ACG, all conditions gear, line was created in 1996. This line covers the extreme sports market, including snowboarding and mountain biking. Shortly thereafter Nike began selling portable heart monitors and high altitude wrist compasses.

Nike Endorsements

Athletes such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, and Roger Federer have attributed to much of Nike’s fame and success.

Just Do It

In 1988, Nike launched a multi-million dollar tv campaign. It was based on the theme “Just Do It”. The “Just Do It” theme is still actively well known today, with many of Nike’s clothing apparel sporting the slogan.

NikeTown Chain Stores

The first Niketown chain store opened in 1990, where customers could pay tribute to these highly regarded endorsement spokespeople, and shop for a wide range of Nike products.

Overseas Working Conditions

In 1990’s Nike, Inc. faced some criticisms regarding poor working conditions in overseas factories for a brief period of time. Allegedly Nike factory employees in the Asian contract factories were unpaid and expected to work in poor conditions.

Manufacturing of Nike Products

Almost all of Nike products are made by independent contractors. Most of these contractors are located overseas. However, Nike is very heavily involved in the design, development, and promotional marketing all Nike products. Nike is best known for their athletic shoe and apparel line.

Sports Events

One of Nike’s long term marketing strategies was to organize and package sporting events. Together with Mike Ovitz’s Creative Artists Agency, this was made possible and put Nike on the same levels as large sports management companies like IMG, ProServ, and Advantage International.

Negotiating Sports Contracts

Nike also acted as a sports agent and negotiated contracts for Alonzo Mourning, Scottie Pippin, and others. Nike also continued to retain Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley as their company’s spokesmen.

Nike’s Biggest Rival

For many years, Reebok, Nike’s biggest rival in the U.S. market, stayed ahead of Nike with sales. However, Nike managed to pull ahead of Reebok and many other competitors like Adidas and Puma.

Nike Survives Protests and Boycotts

Over the years, Nike has been under scrutiny for allegations of employing children, underpaying, mistreatment, and exposing workers in Asian Contract factories to poor working conditions. This population of these workers was close to 400,000 and were responsible for production of the majority of Nike’s shoes and apparel. Soon after these outbursts Nike assured the public that changes were being made to the Asian suppliers employees. The minimum age of employees was raised, independent inspectors were allowed to inspect the factories, and air quality standards were firmer. Nike was also ridiculed for being a multinational company that promoted global brands.

The Techlab Division

In the year 2000, Nike created its new Techlab division. This division was responsible for designing and marketing sports technology accessories. This initiative was to target the generation Y group. Nike sold digital audio players, portable heart rate monitors, and high altitude wrist compasses. In keeping up with modern technology Nike also began selling their products online through their company website directly to customers.

Women’s World Cup – U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team

Nike finally began to regain the public’s positive attention when they sponsored the winning Women’s World Cup, U.S. Women’s Soccer Team.

Some of Nike’s Competitors

Nike is involved in a very competitive market. Some of Nike’s competitors include:

Callaway Golf Company
Levi Strauss
The Timberland Company
Fruit of the Loom
Timex Corporation
Tommy Hilfiger Corporation

Nike prominently has higher sales than many of its competitors and continues to strive to be number one in the industry.


Nike’s commitment in continuing to produce innovative and quality products year after year has led them to become one of the largest sporting shoe, apparel, and equipment companies worldwide. Nike stands behind all of their products. If you are not happy with Nike products you have purchased and the retailer you purchased your Nike merchandise from does not satisfy your needs, contact Nike directly, and you will be well taken care of.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Brief history of the Nike Company

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *