Nike Success Story: How 'Just Do it' Became An Iconic Message

“The most important product of market economy is the consumer,” Werner Mitsch, a German aphorist, once said. Early in 1962, two men implemented this idea and built the base for a company which has eliminated its competitors with the help of an amazing marketing concept. Today this company is known as the biggest sports article manufacturer of the world – NIKE.

“The most important product of market economy is the consumer,” Werner Mitsch, a German aphorist, once said. Early in 1962, two men implemented this idea and built the base for a company which has eliminated its competitors with the help of an amazing marketing concept. Today this company is known as the biggest sports article manufacturer of the world – NIKE.

The story of success started at the University of Oregon in the USA in 1962, where Bill Bowerman, a coach specialized on competitive sports, and one of his students, Phil Knight as a middle-distance runner, realized a risky idea about bringing low-priced, high-tech athletic shoes from Japan to the USA in order to sell them under their own brand. The goal was clear: dislodging German domination of the US athletic footwear industry and improving the athletes’ individual performance.

After Phil Knight earned his MBA at Stanford University, he travelled to Japan, and succeeded in negotiating with executives from Onitsuka Tiger, a footwear manufacturer. As a result, Knight's company, Blue Ribbon Sports, became the distributor of Tiger brand footwear for the western United States. In 1964 samples of Tiger footwear were sent to Knight’s former coach Bowerman who suggested a partnership with him to provide endorsement clout as well as footwear design ideas. With a pledge of $500 each the two gave birth to Blue Ribbon Sports and built the foundations of NIKE.

Though the business started slow, by 1965 sales had reached an impressive $20,000.
As their business was established by now they tried to launch their own line of shoes.  After years of struggle, in 1971 they came up with lighter weight training shoes that had an outsole with waffle-type nubs for traction. They debuted their training shoes in the 1972 U.S. Track & Field Trials.

Their first brand ambassador was Steve Prefontaine, who during his college career from 1969 to 1972 set seven American records from the 2,000m to the 10,000m. Soon they launched the Nike Air technology in 1979. This was able to furthur strengthen their status as a successful competitor to the competition that existed. The growth that Nike experienced was tremendous during this stage which lead them to go for Initial Public Offering by the end of 1980. Soon their brand had grown very popular with the fitness affecinidos. And by 1982 they had become the No.1 supplier for athletic/training shoes in America.

Nike’s brand logo ‘Swoosh’ and tagline 'Just Do It' had become a commonly recognisable symbol in the American households.