SBD/Issue 59/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Nike's Mark Parker Pushes Brand Forward By Keeping With Times

Nike's Market Share Is Growing
Under Parker's Leadership
Nike CEO Mark Parker after four years in his position is "growing Nike from a brand that you slip on your feet or pull over your shoulders to one that follows you off the field into your life of digital socializing and New World hobbies," according to a Money section cover story by Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Parker is "steering Nike through the hazards in part by subtly downplaying the Nike brand and recognizing that growth increasingly will come from other brands in the company portfolio," including Umbro, Converse and Hurley. He is "ramping up profitable product customization options for buyers," and has "tripled spending on Nike's digital platform, redesigning NikeStore.com into an industry-leading site and growing digital sales by double digits." Sporting Goods Intelligence data shows that Nike's market share grew almost 1% in '08, "while industry sales fell," and it is "beating the industry again in 2009." Nike Chair Phil Knight said of Parker, "He's much better equipped than I was to deal with running a big company." Horovitz notes Parker's latest "game plan is simple: Small is big." While Nike has been a "peripheral player in teen-targeted activities such as skateboarding and snowboarding, Parker wants it to become a trend-setting insider." A new store in Southern California "doesn't carry the Nike name," and instead just carries the logos for Converse, Hurley and Nike's 6.0 action sports line. Meanwhile, Horovitz notes Nike's "celebrity athletes are enamored of Parker. And he is loyal to them almost to a fault." The brand stayed with Lakers G Kobe Bryant after he was accused of rape in '03, and is "standing by Tiger Woods" right now. Parker said, "Tiger and his family have Nike's full support." Parker indicated that Nike will not "move away from pricey athlete endorsements." He said, "We always want to be connected with the world's top athletes" (USA TODAY, 12/7).

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