12E.6.2 Pair of football cleats signed by Colin Kaepernick
Nike-brand cleats signed by Colin Kaepernick. Shoes are in the red and gold colors of the San Francisco 49ers. Nike swooshes on the outside of the shoe are backwards. Each shoe in signed underneath the swoosh on the outside of the shoe on a gold panel in black marker. Strap along left achilles at back of shoe reads [#CUL8R], strap along right achilles reads [NIKEFB]. Along bottom of shoe, part of the rubber, reads [NIKECARBON-V PROPULSION SYSTEM].
Phil Knight knew that in order to build his brand he had to get superstar buy-in for his products. He reached out to Olympic athletes, who would essentially advertise for Nike simply by wearing Nike shoes at the world’s biggest sporting event. Soon, Nike was the shoe of choice for such athletes as basketball player Michael Jordan. Not only did Jordan promote the Nike brand in the United States and other countries that followed the American National Basketball Association, but Jordan and others wore Nike shoes to the Olympics as part of the “Dream Team” squad. These cleats are signed by football player Colin Kaepernick and are on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History. How do you think a sports figure’s persona is shaped by his or her brand choice? How do you think that brand is shaped by who chooses to wear it? How do you think Nike might work to shape all of this to its own benefit? Do you notice any ways in which Nike or other brands seek to appeal to different groups of consumers in this country or abroad?
While shoes were the first product that Nike introduced on the global market, the company soon realized the growing market in sports apparel and in turn capitalized on this as well. By the year 2000, only 68 of the 736 factories supplying Nike were manufacturing shoes. The shoe factories were located primarily in Asian countries. The rest of Nike’s contracting factories were making sports apparel and equipment and were located in countries across the globe. Students can explore how trade agreements and rules governing international trade can influence a company such as Nike to contract with different foreign factories for different products. Shoe factories are usually larger than apparel factories and require more capital up front for necessary equipment. Apparel factories require more labor-intensive methods than shoe factories and are generally smaller and easier to assemble/disassemble and move. A multinational corporation like Nike understands how and where to invest in foreign manufacturing to increase its profit.