Tuesday, June 29, 2010
In febuary 1981 Phil Knight sent Rob Strasser to Holland with the
instruction "Sell shoes". When Strasser arrived at his Amsterdamn base he
quickly found that Nike had a bad quality reputation amongst european
consumers due specifically its production in Korea, image suffered.
In America, Nike's Volume came from people wearing athletic shoes to
supermarkets and bars. In Europe, life was more formal and sneakers
weren't street fashion. Adidas owned the soccer market, their quality was
perceived as better and the product was cheaper. To combat the Adidas
market Strasser tried to sell the American dream to Europe through
running, Nike's heartbeat. He targeted the largest frontline populated
country the U.K, 55 million and made Britian's premier distance runner of
the 70's and later BBC athletics TV commentator Brendon Foster head of
the U.K operations. Foster and Strasser soon realised that to beat Adidas
it would have to be football, they signed a deal with English football club
Aston Villa and built a soccer boot in Nike's British factory, Barwen. Villa
made it to the final in 1982 against Bayern Munich, it was Nike Vs Adidas!
Peter Withe scored Villa's winning goal and Nike a name from nowhere
held a loft the European Cup.
During Strasser's first year in Europe he purchased blank Dutch wooden
clogs and had them sprayed and stencilled at the U.K factory with the
Nike logo and matchstick heel company name.
Strasser shipped 30 pairs Nike in Oregon to the most important Nike people
of the time. The clogs were presented at a meeting in Beaverton, each pair
had a specific employees name and shoe size written in pencil on the soles.
The blue and white shoes pictured above owned by Trainerspotter belonged
originally to Lisa Mckillips who joined the company in its BRS early days,
10 months before Steve Prefontain's fatal car accident in 1975. Lisa was
and still is a 10k runner, Mckillips is currently Phil's secretary also.
*Thanks to Lisa Mckillips and Nike archive's for their help in uncovering the story behind
the unofficial Nike wooden shoes.