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As Nike began expanding overseas to Europe, it found that its U.S.-style ads were seen as too aggressive.
Nike hit the ground running in 1962. Originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports, the company focused on providing high-quality running shoes designed for athletes by athletes. Founder PhilipK night believed high-tech shoes for runners could be manufactured at competitive prices if imported from abroad. Nikes commitment to designing innovative footwear for serious athletes helped it build a cult following among U.S. consumers.
Nike believed in a pyramid of influence in which the preferences of a small percentage of top athletes influenced the product and brand choices of others. From the start its marketing campaigns featured accomplished athletes. Runner Steve Prefontaine, the first spokesperson, had an irreverent attitude that matched the company s spirit.
In 1985, Nike signed up then-rookie guard Michael Jordan as a spokesperson. Jordan was still an up-and comer, but he personified superior performance. Nike s bet paid off the Air Jordan line of basketball shoes flew off the shelves and revenues hit over $100 million in the first year alone. As one reporter stated, few marketers have so reliably been able to identify and sign athletes who transcend their sports to such great effect.
In 1988, Nike aired the first ads in its $20 million Just DoIt ad campaign. The campaign, which ultimately featured 12 TV spots in all, subtly challenged a generation of athletic enthusiasts to chase their goals. It was a natural manifestation of Nikes attitude of self-empowerment through sports.
As Nike began expanding overseas to Europe, it found that its U.S.-style ads were seen as too aggressive. Nike realized it had to authenticate its brand in Europe, so it focused on soccer (known as football outside the United States) and became active as a sponsor of youth leagues, local clubs, and national teams.