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Essay title: Nike

Nike, “named for the Greek winged goddess of victory”, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports, began, in 1962, as a partnership between Bill Bowerman, the then “long-time University of Oregon track & field coach”, and Phil Knight, a then “former business student and a one-time runner under Bowerman’s tutelage”. Bill Bowerman believed that “if you have a body, you are an athlete” and he and Phil set out to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. Nike is now “one of the most recognizable companies” and its branded Swoosh has since become “a universal corporate identifier”. When you see the Swoosh, you know it is Nike.

Nike is a brand that I have been loyal to for twenty years. I received my first pair, from my mom, in 1986 and have been hooked ever since. I was so excited to get them because my brother had a pair and, at that time, and for the greater part of my childhood, Nike was the “it” brand in athletic shoes.

As a child I enjoyed Nike because they were a kind of status symbol and my brother always wore them. My brother was eleven years my senior and I thought he was the coolest person on the planet. As I matured, however, I began to appreciate Nike for different reasons. The fit of the shoe, for instance, I find to be much better than many of the others. My feet are quite narrow and can be difficult to fit. With Nike I have never had a problem. Whether I am exercising or just lounging around in them, the fit has always been perfect. Also, over the years, Nike has become “a leader in environmental sensitivity”. Their designers have begun to consider Mother Nature and, as a result, have started eliminating glues, adhesives, plastics, and other toxic materials used in traditional sneakers. Snap-fit-systems are replacing adhesives in their running shoes and natural materials are replacing the plastic heel cup in their basketball shoes. This idea stems from Nike’s “chief design guru”, John R. Hoke III. Hoke is very passionate about his idea and hopes that his design team will begin to think very differently about the way they create their products. The environment is an issue that I feel very strongly about, myself, and thus has led me to become more loyal to the Nike brand than before. Nike, to me, represents quality and class.

Nike’s target market has always been children and young adults. Their commercials, such as the “Just Do It” and “Be Like Mike” ads had an image of sweat and performance. Nike attempts to catch the attention of their target market, much like P.F. Flyers did with the baby boom kids in the 1950’s. They attempt to convince consumers that simply by wearing their shoes you can run faster and jump higher and, whether you are wearing them for “padding around the house or driving to the local 7-eleven”, you are “allied with those who spend hours a week honing their bodies”. Only they simplified that message by saying to those consumers: “Just Do It”. That is a very broad statement and one that most likely caught the attention of a lot of people. Nike was telling consumers just to do their own thing and be themselves and we would all find common ground as long as we were all wearing Nike sneakers. Many of Nike’s customers are young women. In fact, they have so many women customers that they, wisely, came out with a Nike Women line a few years back, in order to target those consumers more appropriately. I fit into their target market because I am a young, active, adult female, interested in health and fitness. Also, growing up in the time that I did Nike’s mission statement of inspiration and innovation could not be more appropriate. As I and others in my age group have matured we have watched technology mature as well. Computers went from black and green screens to become the world’s information super highway, video games went from Atari to Sony Play station II---the innovative, technological advances go on and on. Why should the shoes we wear be any different?

Since becoming an environmentally-friendly company, Nike has been using social responsibility as strategy. For instance, this fall, Nike was running a “re-use-a-shoe” program, “recycling athletic shoes for noble purposes”. “Rubber and foam by-products are used for manufacturing playgrounds and football, basketball, and soccer areas in needy communities. Another strategy they use is allowing customers to be creative and unique by designing their own shoes. Last Spring, Nike had a “shoe-building event” in Times Square. “Passers-by” were allowed to make their own sneakers which were then displayed on

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