Nike - The 'Goddess of Marketing'

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG088
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1957-2003
Pub Date : 2001
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : NIKE Inc.
Industry : Shoe Manufacturing
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Most of the ads featured celebrities from different sporting areas. The company was also attuned to the tastes and sensibilities of the public and tried to create ads that would appeal to the maximum number of people.

In 2003, Nike was the market leader in sports goods and one of the most popular brands in the world. The company's logo, the 'swoosh' was thought to be one of the best logos ever designed and had a high degree of recall value. Analysts said that the recognition of the 'swoosh' rivaled the recognition levels of the Stars and Stripes of the American Flag or the Golden Arches logo of McDonalds5.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies


The future co-founders of Nike met in 1957, when Knight was an undergraduate student and middle-distance athlete at the University of Oregon (which was known for having the best track program in the country) and Bill Bowerman (Bowerman), the athletics coach. In the early 1960s, when Knight was doing his MBA at Stanford University, he submitted his marketing research dissertation on the US shoe manufacturing industry.

His assertion was that low cost, high quality running shoes could be imported from labor-rich Asian countries like Japan and sold in the US to end Germany's domination in the industry.

In 1962, while on a world tour, Knight met the management of the Onitsuka Company (Onitsuka) of Japan, which manufactured high quality athletic shoes under the brand name 'Tiger'.

He arranged for these shoes to be imported to the US for sale under the name 'Blue Ribbon Shoes' (BRS) (A name he thought up when the management of Onitsuka asked him about which company he represented.

BRS became the forerunner of Nike). In late 1963, Knight received his first shipment of 200 Tiger shoes. In 1964, Knight and Bowerman formed a partnership, with each of them contributing $500 and BRS formally came into being. Knight did not have the money to do any formal advertising for his products.

Instead, he crafted his 'grassroots' philosophy of selling shoes. He believed in going out to the athletes who constituted his main market, to sell his shoes. The first shoes were sold from the basement of Knight's house and the backs of trucks and cars at local track events...

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5] A very popular restaurant chain based in the US and operating in most of the countries around the world.

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