Bill Bowerman & Philip Knight
Nike, Inc. is a major publicly traded sportswear and equipment supplier based in the United States. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area. It is the world's leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment with revenue in excess of $18.6 billion USD in its fiscal year 2008 (ending May 31, 2008). As of 2008, it employed more than 30,000 people worldwide. Nike and Precision Castparts are the only Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the state of Oregon, according to The Oregonian.
The company was founded on January 25, 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight, and officially became Nike, Inc. in 1978. The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger, making most sales at track meets out of Knight's automobile. The company takes its name from Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.
The company's profits grew quickly, and in 1966, BRS opened its first retail store, located on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, California. 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 newly designed Swoosh by Carolyn Davidson. The Swoosh was first used by Nike in June 1971, and was registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on January 22, 1974.
The first shoe to carry this design that was sold to the public was a soccer shoe named "Nike", which was released in the summer of 1971. In February 1972, BRS introduced its first line of Nike shoes, with the name Nike derived from the Greek goddess of victory. In 1978, BRS, Inc. officially renamed itself to Nike, Inc. Beginning with Ilie Nastase, the first professional athlete to sign with BRS/Nike, the sponsorship of athletes became a key marketing tool for the rapidly growing company.
By 1980, Nike had reached a 50% market share in the United States athletic shoe market, and the company went public in December of that year. Its growth was due largely to 'word-of-foot' advertising (to quote a Nike print ad from the late 1970s), rather than television ads. Nike's first national television commercials ran in October 1982 during the broadcast of the New York Marathon. The ads were created by Portland-based advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, which had formed several months earlier in April 1982.
Nike markets its products under its own brand as well as Nike Golf, Nike Pro, Nike+, Air Jordan, Nike Skateboarding and subsidiaries including Cole Haan, Hurley International, Umbro and Converse. Nike also owned Bauer Hockey (later renamed Nike Bauer) between 1995 and 2008. In addition to manufacturing sportswear and equipment, the company operates retail stores under the Niketown name. Nike sponsors many high profile athletes and sports teams around the world, with the highly recognized trademarks of "Just do it" and the Swoosh logo.