Fortunes 2021: Phil Knight, Founder, Nike

A single comma, but you can choose from a thousand. In terms of brand recognition, the power of the Nike swoosh is unmatched in the sportswear industry and is indelibly etched in the minds of consumers, something that only the logos of a handful of companies in n Any industry, like McDonald’s Golden Arches, can boast too. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, and Nike’s best-selling emblem costs just $ 35 in graphic design fees.

Combining entrepreneurial drive with an all-consuming passion for sport, Phil Knight founded his legendary corporate brand in 1971 after drawing inspiration from Greek mythology, in particular the wings of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. He had entered the sneakers business a few years earlier as a distributor of the Japanese brand Asics.

Nike’s half-century story began in the stands of Autzen Stadium on the University of Oregon campus. Born in nearby Portland, Knight was one of the state’s top track runners. After a brief apprenticeship in selling the Japanese brand Asics, he founded Nike in the hope of giving fellow athletes better shoes for running.

Knight’s masterpiece came in 1984 when he convinced Michael Jordan to sign with his company

It’s hard to imagine a world before Nike, but even though Nike was everywhere in the ’80s and featured in some of the biggest movies of that decade, like Back to the future and The breakfast club, the sneaker was always the new kid on the block.

Knight’s masterstroke came in 1984 when he convinced Michael Jordan to sign with his company, which then launched the widely acclaimed Air Jordan line of basketball shoes. Nike had struck the big blow.

Ongoing battle
In the 90s, Nike started to establish itself on the ground of its European rival Adidas, taking over clubs like Barcelona, ​​which has been part of Nike since 1998, and Arsenal. At home, his business has been the exclusive outfitter of the NFL for a decade. Indeed, Phil Knight is an avid fan and benefactor of the University of Oregon Ducks varsity football team and has funded the construction of numerous athletic facilities on his alma mater’s campus.

Knight’s athlete endorsement strategy has continued to this day. LeBron James, Rafael Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo are just a few of the top stars in the sports world currently with Nike. However, that kind of celebrity credit doesn’t come cheap, and Nike’s projected endorsement contract commitments for 2022 are in excess of $ 1.5 billion.

In recent years, Nike has started associating its brand with sportspeople taking a stand on social justice issues, such as Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe.

Now 83, Knight holds the title of President Emeritus of Nike, and while little remains of the founding family on the board today, his son Travis sits at the helm of the studio. animation Laika which her father bought. Will Vinton in 2002.

Behind all the flashy Nike stores and celebrity endorsements, at the heart of the company lies a passion for athletic excellence that comes from its founder. In his memoir, titled Shoe Dog, Knight states: “The secret to happiness, I have always suspected, the essence of beauty or of truth, or whatever we need to know about one or the other. other, was somewhere at this point when the ball is in play. in the air, when the two boxers feel the approach of the bell, when the runners approach the finish line and the crowd rises as just one. There is a sort of exuberant clarity in that thrilling half second before victory and defeat are decided. I wanted anything to be my life, my daily life.

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