Nike’s Cultural Audit
Today a shoe is more than something to protect and keep one’s feet warm, it is a fashion statement, an athletic enhancer, rebellion, status, and the ins and outs of coolness. Shoes, mainly athletic shoes have changed drastically throughout the years. From weight, size, look, and comfort ability, Nike has been the leading footwear company to develop and lead such a growing industry. Peter Hitchcock, the author of Oscillate Wildly, wrote, “The shoe is magical, within both the history of the commodity and the psychological compulsions of modern “man.” The shoe is the emblem of fetishism that links the commodity to desire. And the most magical shoe of all is the athletic shoe because it is simultaneously a symbol of cultural capital, physical prowess, self-esteem, economic and psychic overinvestment, and crass capital exploitation; in fact, it epitomizes late flexible capital accumulation and continuing masculinist regimes of disavowel” (Hitchcock). Shoes mean something different to everyone, but one thing remains constant, they are a big part of everyone’s lives, whether they realize it or not. Nike is the world’s leading athletic shoe industry, founded in 1972; they have climbed their way to the top and will not be knocked down. Nikes sales are impressive and they are a company devoted to upholding standards and morals within their company and suppliers. Overview of Nike
In 1972 Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight created an athletic shoe and clothing empire, known as Nike. Bowerman was a track and field coach at the University of Oregon, while Knight was a middle distance runner on Bowerman’s track team at Oregon. These two track stars created a company that would change the way athletic footwear was made and the image associated along with it. Nike works to fulfill its mission statement, which states that their mission is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” (About NIKE Inc.). Before Nike was created, Bowerman and Knight formed Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). They began by placing an order of 300 pairs of shoes; Knight sold some of the shoes out of the trunk of his car, while Bowerman began tearing the shoes apart in order to see what he could do to make them lighter and have overall better quality. Bowerman then used the University of Oregon’s track runners to test out the new shoes he was creating. While they sold and revamped shoes, they also were both working full time jobs. Because of this they decided on bringing another person into their new company, Jeff Johnson, who was previously a runner at Stanford. Johnson “became the first full-time employee of Blue Ribbon Sports in 1965” (About NIKE Inc.). Johnson had a major impact on the creation of Nike. He created the “first product brochures, print ads, and marketing materials, and even shot the photographs for the company’s catalogues” (About NIKE Inc.). He established a “mail order system, opened the first BRS retail store and managed shipping/receiving. He also designed several early Nike shoes, and even conjured up the name Nike in 1971” (About NIKE Inc.). The “Swoosh” was created by Carolyn Davidson, who was a graphic design student at Portland State University (About NIKE Inc.). With this new logo, name, and new design innovations being created, BRS just needed an athlete to elevate and endorse the new Nike line. Steve Prefontaine would be the man for this job. Prefontaine was a track star at the University of Oregon from 1969 to 1973. He “never lost any race at his home track over the one mile distance, and quickly gained national exposure thanks to cover stories on magazines like Sports Illustrated and his fourth place finish in 1972 in the 5,000m in Munich” (About NIKE Inc.). Prefontaine became a powerful ambassador or BRS and Nike after he graduated from Oregon. When he was just 24 Prefontaine died tragically in a car accident. At the time of his death he held American records in seven...
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