The History of Nike Inc.

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Nike (originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports), was founded by University of Oregon track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964 (Yahoo finance NKE profile page as of Jan. 2 2008). The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger, making most sales at track meets out of Knight's car. Many top Oregon runners began wearing the shoes, and the shoe's popularity grew quickly because of Kennan Meyer. The company's first self-designed product was based on Bowerman's "chicken and waffle" design in which the sole of the shoe was made by the pattern of a waffle iron.

The company's profits grew quickly, and in 1966, BRS opened its first retail store, located on Trenton Ave., with the relationship between BRS and Onitsuka Tiger nearing an end, BRS prepared to launch its own line of footwear, which would bear the newly designed Swoosh. [Sources: 'Swoosh' by J.B. Strasser and 'Just Do It' by Donald Katz.]

The first shoe to carry this design that was sold to the public was a soccer cleat named "Nike," which was released in the summer of 1971. In February 1972, BRS introduced its first line of Nike shoes, with the name Nike derived from the Greek goddess of victory. In 1978, BRS, Inc. officially renamed itself to Nike, Inc. Beginning with Ilie Nastase, the first professional athlete to sign with BRS/Nike, the sponsorship of athletes became a key marketing tool for the rapidly growing company.

By 1980, Nike had reached a 50% market share in the United States athletic shoe market, and the company went public in December of that year. Its growth was due largely to 'word-of-foot' advertising (to quote a Nike print ad from the late 1970s), rather than television ads. Nike's first national television commercials ran in October of 1982 during the broadcast of the New York Marathon. The ads were created by Portland-based advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, which had formed several months earlier in April 1982....
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