Nike, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), was founded by University of Oregon track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964. The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS), making most sales at track meets out of Knight's automobile.
According to Otis Davis, a student athlete whom Bowerman coached at the University of Oregon, who later went on to win two gold medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics, Bowerman made the first pair of Nike shoes for him, contradicting a claim that they were made for Phil Knight. Says Davis, "I told Tom Brokaw that I was the first. I don't care what all the billionaires say. Bill Bowerman made the first pair of shoes for me. People don't believe me. In fact, I didn't like the way they felt on my feet. There was no support and they were too tight. But I saw Bowerman make them from the waffle iron, and they were mine."
In 1964, in its first year in business, BRS sold 1,300 pairs of Japanese running shoes grossing $8,000. By 1965 the fledgling company had acquired a full-time employee, and sales had reached $20,000. In 1966, BRS opened its first retail store, located at 3107 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, California next to a beauty salon, so its employees no longer needed to sell inventory from the back of their cars. In 1967, due to rapidly increasing sales, BRS expanded retail and distribution operations on the East Coast, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
By 1971, the relationship between BRS and Onitsuka Tiger was nearing an end. BRS prepared to launch its own line of footwear, which would bear the Swoosh newly designed by Carolyn Davidson. The Swoosh was first used by Nike on June 18, 1971, and was registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on January 22, 1974.
In 1976, the company hired John Brown and Partners, based in Seattle, as its first advertising agency. The following year, the agency created the first "brand ad" for Nike, called "There is no finish line", in which no Nike product was shown. By 1980, Nike had attained a 50% market share in the U.S. athletic shoe market, and the company went public in December of that year.
Together, Nike and Wieden+Kennedy have created many print and television advertisements, and Wieden+Kennedy remains Nike's primary ad agency. It was agency co-founder Dan Wieden who coined the now-famous slogan "Just Do It" for a 1988 Nike ad campaign, which was chosen by Advertising Age as one of the top five ad slogans of the 20th century and enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution. Walt Stack was featured in Nike's first "Just Do It" advertisement, which debuted on July 1, 1988. Wieden credits the inspiration for the slogan to "Let's do it", the last words spoken by Gary Gilmore before he was executed.
Throughout the 1980s, Nike expanded its product line to encompass many sports and regions throughout the world. In 1990, Nike moved into its eight-building World Headquarters campus in Beaverton, Oregon. The first Nike retail store, dubbed Niketown, opened in downtown Portland in November of that year.
Phil Knight announced in mid-2015 that he is planning to step down as chairman of Nike in 2016.
Nike has acquired several apparel and footwear companies over the course of its history, some of which have since been sold. Its first acquisition was the upscale footwear company Cole Haan in 1988, followed by the purchase of Bauer Hockey in 1994. In 2002, Nike bought surf apparel company Hurley International from founder Bob Hurley. In 2003, Nike paid US$309 million to acquire Converse, makers of the Chuck Taylor All-Stars line of sneakers. The company acquired Starter in 2004 and Umbro, known as the manufacturers of the England national football team's kit, in 2008.
In order to refocus on its core business lines, Nike began divesting of some of its subsidiaries in the 2000s. It sold Starter in 2007 and Bauer Hockey in 2008. The company sold Umbro in 2012 and Cole Haan in 2013. As of 2013, Nike owns two key subsidiaries: Converse Inc. and Hurley International.
Nike Inc. will buy back $8 billion of Nike's class B stock in 4 years after the current $5 billion buyback program is completed in second quarter of fiscal 2013. Up to September 2012, Nike Inc. has bought back $10 billion of stock.
Nike was made a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2013, when it replaced Alcoa.
On December 19, 2013, Nike Inc.'s quarterly profit rose due to a 13 percent increase in global orders for merchandise since April of that year. Future orders of shoes or clothes for delivery between December and April, rose to $10.4 billion. Nike shares (NKE) rose 0.6 percent to $78.75 in extended trading.
In November 2015, Nike announced it would initiate a $12 billion share buyback, as well as a two-for-one stock split, with shares to begin trading at the decreased price on December 24. The split will be the seventh in company history.
On April 26, 2016, it was announced that Nike would release the Nike Air Force 180 "Olympic" associated with the dream team of 1992. It will drop on July 7 at select Nike Sportswear retailers.
Nike produces a wide range of sports equipment. Their first products were track running shoes. They currently also make shoes, jerseys, shorts, cleats, baselayers, etc. for a wide range of sports, including track and field, baseball, ice hockey, tennis, association football (soccer), lacrosse, basketball, and cricket. Nike Air Max is a line of shoes first released by Nike, Inc. in 1987. Additional product lines were introduced later, such as Air Huarache, which debuted in 1992. The most recent additions to their line are the Nike 6.0, Nike NYX, and Nike SB shoes, designed for skateboarding. Nike has recently introduced cricket shoes called Air Zoom Yorker, designed to be 30% lighter than their competitors'. In 2008, Nike introduced the Air Jordan XX3, a high-performance basketball shoe designed with the environment in mind.
Nike sells an assortment of products, including shoes and apparel for sports activities like association football, basketball, running, combat sports, tennis, American football, athletics, golf, and cross training for men, women, and children. Nike also sells shoes for outdoor activities such as tennis, golf, skateboarding, association football, baseball, American football, cycling, volleyball, wrestling, cheerleading, aquatic activities, auto racing, and other athletic and recreational uses. Nike recently teamed up with Apple Inc. to produce the Nike+ product that monitors a runner's performance via a radio device in the shoe that links to the iPod nano. While the product generates useful statistics, it has been criticized by researchers who were able to identify users' RFID devices from 60 feet (18 m) away using small, concealable intelligence motes in a wireless sensor network.
In 2004, Nike launched the SPARQ Training Program/Division. Some of Nike's newest shoes contain Flywire and Lunarlite Foam to reduce weight. The Air Zoom Vomero running shoe, introduced in 2006 and currently in its 11th generation, featured a combination of groundbreaking innovations including a full length air cushioned sole, an external heel counter, a crashpad in the heel for shock absorption, and Fit Frame technology for a stable fit.
The 2010 Nike Pro Combat jersey collection were worn by teams from the following universities: Miami, Alabama, Boise State University, Florida, Ohio State, Oregon State University, Texas Christian University, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh. Teams will wear these jerseys in key matchups as well as any time the athletic department deems it necessary.
The Nike brand, with its distinct V shaped logo, quickly became regarded as a status symbol in modern urban fashion and hip-hop fashion due to its association with success in sport. Beginning in the 1980s, various items of Nike clothing became staples of mainstream American youth fashion, especially tracksuits, shell suits, baseball caps, Air Jordans, and Air Max running shoes with thick, air cushioned rubber soles and contrasting blue, yellow, green, white, or red trim. Limited edition sneakers and prototypes with a regional early release were known as Quickstrikes, and became highly desirable items for teenage members of the sneakerhead subculture.
By the 1990s and 2000s, American and European teenagers associated with the preppy or popular clique began combining these sneakers, leggings, sweatpants, crop tops, and tracksuits with regular casual chic street clothes such as jeans, skirts, leg warmers, slouch socks, and bomber jackets. Particularly popular were the unisex spandex Nike Tempo compression shorts worn for cycling and running, which had a mesh lining, waterproofing, and, later in the 2000s, a zip pocket for a Walkman or MP3 player.
From the late 2000s into the 2010s, Nike Elite basketball socks began to be worn as everyday clothes by fans of hip-hop and young children. Originally plain white or black, these socks had special shock absorbing cushioning in the sole plus a moisture wicking upper weave. Later, Nike Elite socks became available in bright colors inspired by throwback basketball uniforms, often with contrasting bold abstract designs, images of celebrities, and freehand digital print to capitalise upon the emerging nostalgia for 1990s fashion.
In 2015, a new self lacing shoe was introduced that will officially release in 2016. Called the Nike Mag, it had a preliminary limited release in 2015, only available by auction with all proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. This was done again in 2016.
Nike have introduced a premium line, focused more on street wear than sports wear called NikeLab
In March 2017, Nike announced its launch of a plus-size clothing line, which will feature new sizes 1X through 3X on more than 200 products.
Nike's world headquarters are surrounded by the city of Beaverton, but are within unincorporated Washington County. The city attempted to forcibly annex Nike's headquarters, which led to a lawsuit by Nike, and lobbying by the company that ultimately ended in Oregon Senate Bill 887 of 2005. Under that bill's terms, Beaverton is specifically barred from forcibly annexing the land that Nike and Columbia Sportswear occupy in Washington County for 35 years, while Electro Scientific Industries and Tektronix receive the same protection for 30 years. Nike is planning to build a 3.2 million square foot expansion to its World Headquarters in Beaverton. The design will target LEED Platinum certification and will be highlighted by natural daylight, and a grey water treatment center.
Nike has contracted with more than 700 shops around the world and has offices located in 45 countries outside the United States. Most of the factories are located in Asia, including Indonesia, China, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, Philippines, and Malaysia. Nike is hesitant to disclose information about the contract companies it works with. However, due to harsh criticism from some organizations like CorpWatch, Nike has disclosed information about its contract factories in its Corporate Governance Report.
Nike has been criticized for contracting with factories (known as Nike sweatshops) in countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico. Vietnam Labor Watch, an activist group, has documented that factories contracted by Nike have violated minimum wage and overtime laws in Vietnam as late as 1996, although Nike claims that this practice has been stopped. The company has been subject to much critical coverage of the often poor working conditions and exploitation of cheap overseas labor employed in the free trade zones where their goods are typically manufactured. Sources for this criticism include Naomi Klein's book No Logo and Michael Moore documentaries.
Campaigns have been taken up by many colleges and universities, especially anti-globalisation groups, as well as several anti-sweatshop groups such as the United Students Against Sweatshops.
As of July 2011, Nike stated that two-thirds of its factories producing Converse products still do not meet the company's standards for worker treatment. A July 2011 Associated Press article stated that employees at the company's plants in Indonesia reported constant abuse from supervisors.
During the 1990s, Nike faced criticism for the use of child labor in Cambodia and Pakistan in factories it contracted to manufacture soccer balls. Although Nike took action to curb or at least reduce the practice, they continue to contract their production to companies that operate in areas where inadequate regulation and monitoring make it hard to ensure that child labor is not being used.
In 2001, a BBC documentary uncovered occurrences of child labor and poor working conditions in a Cambodian factory used by Nike. The documentary focused on six girls, who all worked seven days a week, often 16 hours a day.
In April 2014, one of the biggest strikes in mainland China took place at the Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Dongguan shoe factory, producing amongst others for Nike. Yue Yuen did underpay an employee by 250 yuan (40.82 US Dollars) per month. The average salary at Yue Yuen is 3000 yuan per month. The factory employs 70,000 people. This practice was in place for nearly 20 years.
In March 2015, Nike drew criticism after announcing a new sponsorship deal with American sprinter Justin Gatlin who had served two bans for doping. Nike had previously dropped Gatlin after his second failed drug test and resulting long term ban. Critics said that Nike was sending out a bad message by endorsing an athlete who has never been repentant for his actions and still causes widespread discontent within the sport. English sprinter Marlon Devonish described the deal as "a kick in the teeth to the 99% of guys who are clean".
According to the New England-based environmental organization Clean Air-Cool Planet, Nike ranks among the top three companies (out of 56) in a survey of climate-friendly companies. Nike has also been praised for its Nike Grind program (which closes the product lifecycle) by groups like Climate Counts. One campaign that Nike began for Earth Day 2008 was a commercial that featured basketball star Steve Nash wearing Nike's Trash Talk Shoe, which had been constructed in February 2008 from pieces of leather and synthetic leather waste from factory floors. The Trash Talk Shoe also featured a sole composed of ground-up rubber from a shoe recycling program. Nike claims this is the first performance basketball shoe that has been created from manufacturing waste, but it only produced 5,000 pairs for sale.
Another project Nike has begun is called Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. This program, started in 1993, is Nike's longest-running program that benefits both the environment and the community by collecting old athletic shoes of any type in order to process and recycle them. The material that is produced is then used to help create sports surfaces such as basketball courts, running tracks, and playgrounds.
A project through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found workers were exposed to toxic isocyanates and other chemicals in footwear factories in Thailand. In addition to inhalation, dermal exposure was the biggest problem found. This could result in allergic reactions including asthmatic reactions.
Nike promotes its products by sponsorship agreements with celebrity athletes, professional teams and college athletic teams.
In 1982, Nike aired its first national television ads, created by newly formed ad agency Wieden+Kennedy (W+K), during the broadcast of the New York Marathon. The Cannes Advertising Festival has named Nike its Advertiser of the Year in 1994 and 2003, making it the first company to receive that honor twice.
Nike also has earned the Emmy Award for best commercial twice since the award was first created in the 1990s. The first was for "The Morning After," a satirical look at what a runner might face on the morning of January 1, 2000 if every dire prediction about the Y2K problem came to fruition. The second was for a 2002 spot called "Move," which featured a series of famous and everyday athletes in a variety of athletic pursuits.
Nike was criticized for its use of the Beatles song "Revolution" in a 1987 commercial against the wishes of Apple Records, the Beatles' recording company. Nike paid US$250,000 to Capitol Records Inc., which held the North American licensing rights to the recordings, for the right to use the Beatles' rendition for a year.
Apple sued Nike Inc., Capitol Records Inc., EMI Records Inc. and Wieden+Kennedy for $15 million. Capitol-EMI countered by saying the lawsuit was "groundless" because Capitol had licensed the use of "Revolution" with the "active support and encouragement of Yoko Ono, a shareholder and director of Apple."
Nike discontinued airing ads featuring "Revolution" in March 1988. Yoko Ono later gave permission to Nike to use John Lennon's "Instant Karma" in another advertisement.
Nike was an early adopter of internet marketing, email management technologies, and using broadcast and narrowcast communication technologies to create multimedia marketing campaigns.
In late June 2005, Nike received criticism from Ian MacKaye, owner of Dischord Records, guitarist/vocalist for Fugazi and The Evens, and front man of the defunct punk band Minor Threat, for appropriating imagery and text from Minor Threat's 1981 self-titled album's cover art in a flyer promoting Nike Skateboarding's 2005 East Coast demo tour.
On June 27, Nike Skateboarding's website issued an apology to Dischord, Minor Threat, and fans of both and announced that they have tried to remove and dispose of all flyers. They stated that the people who designed it were skateboarders and Minor Threat fans themselves who created the advertisement out of respect and appreciation for the band. The dispute was eventually settled out of court between Nike and Minor Threat.
As part of the 6.0 campaign, Nike introduced a new line of T-shirts that include phrases such as "Dope", "Get High" and "Ride Pipe" – sports lingo that is also a double entendre for drug use. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino expressed his objection to the shirts after seeing them in a window display at the city's Niketown and asked the store to remove the display. "What we don't need is a major corporation like Nike, which tries to appeal to the younger generation, out there giving credence to the drug issue," Menino told The Boston Herald. A company official stated the shirts were meant to pay homage to extreme sports, and that Nike does not condone the illegal use of drugs. Nike was forced to replace the shirt line.
In June 2015, Nike signed an 8-year deal with the NBA to become the official apparel supplier for the league, beginning with the 2017–18 season. The brand takes over for Adidas, who provided the uniforms and apparel for the league since 2006. Unlike previous deals, Nike's logo will appear on NBA game jerseys – a first for the league.
Nike pays top athletes in many sports to use their products and promote and advertise their technology and design.
Nike's first professional athlete endorser was Romanian tennis player Ilie Năstase. The first track endorser was distance runner Steve Prefontaine. Prefontaine was the prized pupil of the company's co-founder, Bill Bowerman, while he coached at the University of Oregon. Today, the Steve Prefontaine Building is named in his honor at Nike's corporate headquarters.
Nike has also sponsored many other successful track and field athletes over the years, such as Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Sebastian Coe. The signing of basketball player Michael Jordan in 1984, with his subsequent promotion of Nike over the course of his career, with Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon, proved to be one of the biggest boosts to Nike's publicity and sales.
Nike has been the official kit sponsor for the Indian cricket team since 2005.
Nike is a major sponsor of the athletic programs at Penn State University and named its first child care facility after Joe Paterno when it opened in 1990 at the company's headquarters. Nike originally announced it would not remove Paterno's name from the building in the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal. After the Freeh Report was released on July 12, 2012, Nike CEO Mark Parker announced the name Joe Paterno would be removed immediately from the child development center. A new name has yet to be announced.
Nike also sponsored association football players such as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Francesco Totti, Andrés Iniesta and Landon Donovan among others.
In January 2013, Nike signed Rory McIlroy, the then No 1 golfer in the world to a 10-year sponsorship deal worth $250 million. The deal includes using Nike's range of golf clubs, a move Nick Faldo previously described as "dangerous" for McIlroy's game.
On February 21, 2013, Nike announced it suspended its contract with South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, due to his being charged with premeditated murder.
In August 2014, Nike announced that they will not renew their kit supply deal with Manchester United after the 2014–15 season, citing rising costs. Since the start of the 2015–16 season, Adidas has manufactured Manchester United's kit as part of a world-record 10-year deal worth a minimum of £750 million.
Nike is currently sponsoring a group of long-distance runners in an attempt to run a sub-two hour 26.2 mile marathon. The current world record is 2:02:57. Nike is putting together a team of “designers, scientists, coaches, and statisticians” with the goal of having one or more runners break the record by 3 percent in the spring of 2017.
In 2012, Nike is listed as a partner of the (RED) campaign, together with other brands such as Girl, American Express and Converse. The campaign's mission is to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child by 2015 (the campaign's byline is "Fighting For An AIDS Free Generation").