Skip to content


    How Nike Hijacked 1980s Fashion

    rogue coast ca air jordans

    Nike was least likely to succeed in the 1980s.

    adidas* owned the market, the fashion, the sports, the endorsements. Nike needed a high profile, winning star to hijack adidas' dominance.

    They needed Michael Jordan. Jordan was not interested though. At all.

    Jordan was completely committed to adidas. But adidas was lukewarm on Jordan. So Jordan went to the Nike pitch meeting for a new basketball shoe only AFTER Nike called his parents and convinced them to come to Oregon to see what Nike could do for the rising sports star. Nike's technique was to go after Jordan's mama. 

    Per ESPN, in the pitch meeting with Nike, Jordan was shown a highlight tape of himself to the Pointer Sisters, "Jump". Nike showed him a red-and-black shoe design, which violated the NBA's regulations for one-color schemed footwear.



    Jordan said that one of the reasons he liked adidas was because they were lower to the ground than the higher shoes that Nike was making. Nike responded by saying they could tailor the shoe to Jordan’s liking.

    No company was customizing at the time. You were given what the company gave you. Jordan took the deal with Nike. 

    When the 1984-85 season rolled around, everything was locked and loaded.

    The shoes were banned by the NBA because of their lack of uniform color scheme. Nike paid the fines and made a commercial leveraging their rogue, non-conformist ways. This strategy gave them the street cred clout to appeal to both athletes and regular kids.

    The voiceover of the commercial clarified this positioning: "On October 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can't keep you from wearing them."

    Annnnnd, scene. How to successfully steal the market, attention, dominance and status quo in one product.  

    As of 2020, Michael Jordan has made over $1 billion off his endorsement of Nike.


    air jordan ad

    *This incorrectness is correct. 'adidas' doesn't capitalize the first letter.