Nike, Inc.

The Nike swoosh
The Nike swoosh logo

Nike, Inc. Template:NYSE started with sports shoes and now produces equipment for almost every imaginable sport, as well as a range of clothing, school supplies, and other products.

The company takes its name from the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. The popular Swoosh logo is a graphic design created by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for $35. The logo represents the wing of the Greek Goddess.

Nike is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon.



  • 1964 Bill Bowerman, a track coach at the University of Oregon, and Phil Knight, an accounting student and middle-distance runner, had the dream of bringing low-priced, high-tech athletic shoes from Japan to the U.S. At the time German shoes dominated the industry. That year, after entering business together, shoes from Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS) were sold in the U.S. by Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS).
  • 1965 Jeff Johnson, a former rival on the track of Knight's, joined as the company's first full time salesman. He was busy selling shoes out of the back of his van to High Schoolers at track meets. Then in 1966, at 3107 Pico Blvd., in Santa Monica, California, Johnson opened the company's first retail outlet.

Bowerman's desire to improve on Tiger's designs, and Knight's drive to do more landed them with a new direction. Johnson gave this new company the name Nike and Bowerman gave them new designs. After forty years, Nike is now a leader in the sports and fitness industry.

  • 1971 Nike's Swoosh design logo was created by Portland State University graphic design student Carolyn Davidson when asked by Knight. He needed a logo to put on the side of his company's shoes. At the time she was paid the sum of $35 (US), and also worked for Nike for a few years until they needed a full ad agency. Twelve years later, in 1983, Ms. Davidson received a gold Swoosh ring with an embedded diamond at a luncheon honoring her, along with a certificate and an undisclosed amount of Nike stock, in recognition of the Swoosh design logo.
  • 1979 Nike's Air technology is introduced in the Tailwind running shoe. Gas-filled plastic membranes are inserted into the sole of running shoes to provide cushioning.
  • 1980 Nike completes an initial public offering of 2,377,000 shares of Class B common stock on December 2.
  • 1984 Nike signs Michael Jordan to an endorsement contract and releases the first model of his signature shoe, the Air Jordan. Originally, the NBA banned this new shoe, drawing a tremendous amount of publicity. The introduction of the Air Jordan shoe was a key event in Nike's successful development.
  • 1986 Nike revenues surpass $1 billion for the first time.
  • 1987 The Air Max shoe is introduced, which uses a much larger Air cushioning unit, and for the first time is visible at the side of the midsole. This was the first of many generations of Air Max-branded technologies. A television ad featuring the Beatles' song "Revolution" was the first and only time that a song performed by the Beatles was used in a TV ad.
  • 1988 Nike introduces its "Just Do It" slogan.
  • 1989 Nike introduces a new type of footwear designed specifically for cross-training, and features two-sport athlete Bo Jackson in a series of memorable ads called "Bo Knows."
  • 1990 Nike opens the first Niketown store in downtown Portland, Ore., and the store quickly earns numerous retail design and business awards. Over the next 10 years, Nike will open 14 more Niketown stores across the USA and in England and Germany.
  • 1993 Nike introduces an innovative sustainability program, Reuse-A-Shoe, which collects athletic shoes, separates and grinds them up into Nike Grind. which is used in the making of athletic courts, tracks and fields.
  • 1994 Nike signs a long-term partnership with the Brazilian national football (soccer) team, launching a company-wide effort to become the world's leading football brand.
  • 1996 Nike signs Eldrick "Tiger" Woods soon after the young golfing phenom gives up his amateur status. Woods becomes the standard bearer for Nike Golf as that division gains market share.
  • 1996 Nike causes controversy with advertising campaign at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta which features the slogan, "You Don't Win Silver — You Lose Gold." Nike's use of this slogan draws harsh criticism from many sources, including several former Olympic silver and bronze medalists.
  • 1996 Nike opens Niketown New York, its signature 'flagship' store located in midtown Manhattan.
  • 1998 Phil Knight formally commits Nike to strict standards for manufacturing facilities used by Nike, including: minimum age; air quality; mandatory education programs; expansion of microloan program; factory monitoring; and enhanced transparency of Nike's corporate responsibility practices.
  • 1999 Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, dies on Dec. 24 at age 88.
  • 2000 Introduction of the Shox athletic shoe technology.
  • 2003 For the first time in the company's history, international sales exceed USA sales, as Nike continues to develop into a truly global company.
  • 2003 Nike is named "Advertiser of the Year" by the Cannes Advertising Festival, the first company to earn that honor twice (also 1994) in the festival's 50-year history.
  • 2003 High school basketball star LeBron James signs with Nike, while Syracuse University star Carmelo Anthony signs with Jordan Brand. James and Anthony finish 1-2, respectively, in rookie-of-the-year balloting.
  • 2004 Phil Knight steps down as CEO and President of Nike, but continues as chairman. Knight is replaced by William D. Perez as CEO of Nike, effective Dec. 28.
  • 2004 Annual revenues exceed $13 billion.
  • 2004 In June, Chinese animator Zhu Zhiqianq, of Xiao Xiao fame, files a lawsuit against Nike for plagiarizing his cartoon stickmen in their commercials. Nike representatives deny the accusations, claiming that the stickman figure lacks originality, and is public domain. Zhu eventually wins the lawsuit, and Nike is sentenced to pay $36,000 to the cartoonist. [1] (
  • 2005 Nike launches the Air Jordan XX, the 20th edition of the iconic Air Jordan basketball shoe series.


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equal rights organization in the United States. Nike received a 100% rating on the first Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign in 2002. They have maintained this rating in 2003 and 2004.


Nike is criticised for using sweatshops in countries like Indonesia and Mexico. The company has been subject to much critical coverage of the often poor working conditions and the exploitativeness of the cheap overseas labor employed in the free trade zones where their goods are typically manufactured. Sources of this criticism include Naomi Klein's book No Logo and Michael Moore's documentaries. Max Barry lampooned the company's reputation amongst critics in his novel Jennifer Government, in which an amoral Nike executive is the story's villain.

The company also faced criticism when it claimed immunity from a false advertising lawsuit filed by Marc Kasky in California based on the claim that it enjoyed First Amendment rights, as if the corporation were a human being. The dispute proceeded all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court Nike v. Kasky (, but was sent back to California courts without a substantive ruling and subsequently was settled out of court.

Nike has also been the focus of criticism for using the Beatles song "Revolution" in a commercial against the wishes of Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney (this was after John Lennon's death.) Such use is considered demeaning to the author's intent in writing the song.

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