One of the most famous Nike advertising campaigns ever would be for the Air Max in 1987, when the company became the first to secure a song by The Beatles for an ad – in this case, Revolution. Nike has retained its place at the top table of American culture, both in sports and music, more through a process of evolution though. Let’s look at some seminal moments in the history of Nike.
1964 – Nike founder Phil Knight makes a deal with Onitsuka, a Japanese shoe manufacturer, to distribute their superior Tiger brand of running shoes in the United States, and founds Blue Ribbon Shoes.
1972 – Nike release “Moon Shoes,” distinguished by co-founder Bill Bowerman’s Waffle sole, to athletes competing at the Eugene (Oregon) Trials in June 1972. While T-shirts featuring a lowercase “nike” logo prompt some to ask, “Who’s Mike?” Jeff Galloway is the first athlete to win in Nikes.
1974 – The Waffle Trainer, featuring Bill’s distinctive waffle sole, is unleashed on the American public, becoming the best selling trainer in the country. Nobody’s asking “Who’s Mike?” anymore.
1979 – After being tested at the Honolulu Marathon, Nike introduces the Tailwind to the public. The first running shoe using Nike Air, a technologically advanced, patented Air-Sole cushioning system, the rest is history.
1982 – The Air Force 1 is introduced, going on to become one of the most iconic trainers of the eighties – or ever, really. The first Nike basketball shoe to feature Nike Air cushioning technology; this is a stone cold classic.
1987 -The Air Max is released to athletes, and revolutionises sport. Its creator Tinker Hatfield took his cue from architecture, from Richard Rogers’ and Renzo Piano’s revolutionary design for the Pompidou Centre, which exposed the building’s structure as an integral part of its design. Now Nike didn’t have to explain its technology – it was there for all to see.
1996 – Track star Michael Johnson’s legendary gold spikes, weighing only three ounces, help him win both the 200m and 400m gold at the 1996 Olympics. Carl Lewis, Gail Devers and other Nike-partner athletes also bring home gold in Atlanta.
2000 – Never one to rest on their laurels, and always exploring the forefront of design, Nike release a radical new cushioning technology – Nike Shox. Utilising materials used for the engine mounts of race cars, designers can now produce, through superb cushioning, stable but spring-like foundations of resistance for the new millennium of athletes.
2005 – Nike’s next cutting-edge technological advance goes back to basics – Nike Free tries to emulate the sensation of running barefoot. Designer Tobie Hatfield observed a group of athletes training by running barefoot – when he asked their coach why, he was informed that barefoot training strengthens their feet and improves their performance. Nike Free is a radical use of technology in the best sense.
2006 – Nike are one of the first sports companies to realise the value of smart tech, bridging the physical and virtual worlds with Nike+. One small sensor in a classic shoe can connect to an app that allows you to listen to music and monitor bio feedback while you run.
What technological innovation could be next?