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Nike Air Jordans: The Age of the Hypebeast, Application Essay Example

Pages: 8

Words: 2239

Application Essay

Brands are successful because so many people recognize them.  A brand gets people in the door and buying company’s products. Brands are an omnipresent complex phenomenon that are able to penetrate almost every aspect of their consumers’ lives. Albeit, cultural, economic, social, religion, and sporting. Brands can be controversial in their tactics and their marketing strategies, however, we live in a society where must announce the brands we wear and the products we buy for status in society. There are several definitions of branding some archaic and some modern, Richard Koch defines a brand as “a visual design or a name that is given to a product of service by organization in order to differentiate itself from compete ting products…” (Koch, 1994). Brands have to be able to build an image of the product and develop a relationship with the consumers so that product consumption will remain high. One of the biggest brands out is Nike Inc, more specifically their Air Jordan line that has dominated since the 1980s with the help of Michael Jordan. Within this paper, we will explore the Nike Company and their profitable line of Air Jordans that has sparked a reemergence of the phenom known as hypebeast.

The Beginnings

Twitchell explains that “a brand is…a story attached to a manufactured object”. (Twithcell 228) By that definition, Nike would seem to fit the bill, they have one of the most recognizable images and have support the most prolific names in sports.  How brands such as Nike used “such advertising images are central to the construction of cultural ideas about lifestyle, self-image, self-improvement, and glamour.”(Sturken and Cartwright 3) From the time they have populated pop culture they have grossed billions in revenue each year.  Nike is the number 1 company in the world and controls over 40 percent of the US athletic shoe market. Nike versatility in not only selling athletic shoes for every sport that includes; wrestling, cheerleading, volleyball, and baseball. Nike also offers a line of casual wear, shoes, and a line of athletic wear, equipment, and Cole Hann dress shoes. (Nike)  Nike sells in over 140 countries with 19,000 US accounts alone for Nike products, in stores and online. Nike Inc., first began in 1957 by coach and athlete, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. (Nike)  Combing forces with Japanese company Tiger during the decade of 1961 to 1971, they aimed to end Germany’s domination over the footwear industry. Before Nike was Nike, Knight called the company Blue Ribbon Sports, but the name didn’t sound right. It wasn’t until student Carolyn Davidson designed the iconic Nike Swoosh for at the time $35, that Nike than a year later separated from Tiger and became Nike.  “Nike was a fast-rising star. The company’s revenue went from $28.7 million in 1973 to $867 million by the end of 1983.” (Rovell) Chosen from the winged Greek Goddess of victory, Nike went public in 1980, and began to sponsor some of the largest athletes in the world.

How Jordan’s were formed

During the period of the 80s and the 90s, Nike branding and marketing ploys helped to make it the retailer to athletes world-wide. One of the famous and best endorsements that helped to launch Nike to the billion dollar stratosphere was from sports legend Michael Jordan. It was surprisingly OJ Simpson that help Nike see the potential in Michael Jordan, than a rising star in the NBA. Michael himself only wanted to wear Converse and Adidas, but no shoes were making offers or doing anything innovative. (Rovell)  Although Nike’s revenue was steadily rising in the 70s, sales started to turn during the early 80s. When Carl Lewis won the four medals at the Olympics in Nike Shoes, it did provide a boost to the company, it didn’t translate immediately in sales.  Nike courted Jordan for several times but, Jordan adamantly wanted Adidas because they were lower to the ground compared to Nike’s that were higher shoes. Nike wanted Jordan so bad that they tailored to his requests. (Rovell) Jordan still wasn’t comfortable with Jordan, and after seeing the design of the red and black shoes thought they were devil colors. (Rovell)  It was year later and Nike signed the then University of North Carolina basketball star in hopes that his popularity would spur more interest in Nike.  Nike pour over $500,000 in marketing Michael Jordan as a way to branch out and reach a more diverse customer base. The deal that Michael signed was for $2.5 million for 5 years with Nike. (Now Public)

Air Jordans were named by David Falk, Jordan’s agent. The 84-85 NBA basketball season, banned the black and red Nike shoes, so Nike capitalize on its success by releasing a commercial. “On October 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe,” the voice in the commercial said. “On October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can’t keep you from wearing them.” (Rovell)  When Jordan won Rookie of the Year, kids wanted to be like Mike. Nike marketing heads thought up the slogan “Be like Mike”, and “Just Do It” which maximize their success Nike capitalized on Michael Jordan’s success.  When Nike released the Air Jordan is stores they were so at the unprecedented price of $65 in 1985 in March, just a few short months later in May, Nike made over $70 million worth of Air Jordans. By the end of the year the total yielded more than $100 million in revenues. (Rovell)

The official logo for Air Jordans were created after the after 1986-87 slam dunk contest, the Jordan logo changed to the “Jumpman” logo known today. Michael continue his success and in part, Nike was made more successful. Jordan helped produce 12 versions of the Air Jordan shoe, and in 1997 allowed Jordan to develop his own sub-brand. (Now Public) When the Chicago Bulls won their second NBA championship in 1997, Nike wanted maximize on their success. Jordans were now their own line, and featured the Jumpman in media and commercials instead of the Nike name or the Nike Swoosh.  Nike’s Jordan brand has continued to thrive as in 1998, the line earned over $2.6 billion for Nike. Coined the “Jordan Effect”, he has earned Nike close to $10 billion over their business relationship. (Johnson)  Being the largest contribution by any individual endorsement in the history of athletic retail. “After 6 NBA Finals Championships, 6 NBA Finals MVP’s, 5 NBA MVP’s, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, 14 NBA All-Star selections, 10 NBA Scoring Titles, 2 time NBA Dunk Contest Champion, and NBA Rookie of the Year Award Michael Jordan is widely considered the best player to ever play the game.” (Now Public) After Jordan retired in 2003, many fest that the Jordan line would decreased however, Jordan has continued to be a success. The Jordan line has produced 24 versions of Air Jordan, with more being rolled out. With the help of Air Jordans, Nike has grown to a $19 billion company. (Johnson)

The Age of the Hypebeast

The Nike brand has continued to innovate and come up with new ideas in which to spark interest in their brand. By re-introducing the Air Jordans, it has created a new generation of Jordan lovers. This generation has so affectionally been dubbed as “hypebeast” or “sneakheads”.  The typical “SneakerHead” is a person that is highly experienced visually, even at the point of distinguishing between authentic and fake replicas. (Martin) They own multiple pairs of sneakers as a form of hobby, trade, collection, and fashion. According to the Urban Dictionary, “a hypebeast is a kid that collect clothing, shoes, and accessories for the sole purpose of impressing others.” (Urban Dictionary) As typical as that definition may seem, as the sole purpose of why people purchase specific brands, it is the emerging trend in the Air Jordan world. This stigma of shoppers is closely in line with the person’s social identity. This type of behavior is best explained by Goffan that defines the stigma “an attribute that is deeply discrediting,” that reduces the individual “from a whole and usual person to a tainted discounted one.” (Tsai 1) Nevertheless this type of consumership of hypebeast or sneakerhead is so popular that major outlets such as ABC did an entire expose piece on the phenomenon that is sweeping the nation. The type of targets that are classified as sneakerheads include: The Hip Hop Culture; where the men or women is so in tune with the hip hop culture that is buys what every shoe their artist is wearing. The Performance Junkie, is buying shoes based on performance of the shoes alone, what most athletic companies’ target. The Urban legend sneakerhead buys the shoes that are fashionable and influence by popular trends, and the regular sneakehead that buys shoes that are solid every day wear.(Martin) The target market is diversely mixed, although it has often been connoted with African Americans. However, “African-American consumers’ tendency to use conspicuous consumption both to disprove the underclass stigma often attached to them and to signal self-worth.” (Tsai 2)  Air Jordans like most of Nike has been advertised through diverse methods that included different types of music, background, concepts, and images that reach out to consumers that enjoy wearing Air Jordans. Nike first wanted Michael because they needed him to be able to branch out and capture a diverse market that they couldm’t get before. Before Nike revolutionized the way it set up its commercials, minority consumers were largely ignored and neglected to contain the advertising literature to acknowledge the prolonged discrimination and marginalization in response to minority-targeted messages. (Tsai 2)

Sneakerheads are the new target market that is largely buying shoes in droves, reselling, going to conferences, and buying them on the black market for extremely high prices. (Lammite)  This generation of show consumers have been greatly influence by artist, athletes, and other famous celebrities. Such as Jordan did for the company, the images of their favorite celebrities wearing the shoes creates a social construct where consumers have to buy the same shoes. Sturken and Cartwright share that today’s modern society, “a consumer culture is a commodity culture—that is, a culture in which commodities are central to cultural meaning.” (Sturken and Cartwright 12) In the age of capitalism the dollar is the decider, and Jordan shoes now go on sale for upwards of $300, not discounting the resell value which popular platforms such as EBay utilized to sell for over $1000.  This culture of shoe buyers has changed over the decades, but has proved that the popularity of Air Jordans and Michael Jordan specifically is still on-going.  Sneakerheads or Hypebeast have been featured in several magazines, topics of news outlets, and in pop culture. (Rovell, Baur) Such as by popular hip hop and pop artist including Miley Cyrus! The popularity of Jordans has however had negative implications were on days were shoes are released, people line up night before to stand in line. These lines can create a fun atmosphere or lead in tragedy as few individuals have been assaulted or killed for “jumping” the line, or even to steal their shoes. This outrage has sparked Michael Jordan to speak out on the craziness himself. (Tuttle)

The nostalgia of owning Jordan shoes has helped to continue its popularity among a new generation of shoe buyers. Collectors and sneakerhead have gone beyond the normal shoe buying craze and seek up rare and collectible high priced sneakers that have captured the type of consumerism in this society. Branding is important for companies, and Nike along with Air Jordans has proven to not only tell a story behind the products, but create long lasting relationships with consumers that account for high product consumption that has netted the company billions in revenue. The cultural movement in sneakerhead is evidence that brands have incorporated into society and have become the key element in their brand identity. Air Jordans portrays an image in society most synonymous with the hip hop culture, which is closely related to their self-worth, as the definition of hypebeast implies.  Before buying Air Jordans was a feeling of “being like mike”, now it has evolved to establish their status in society.

Works Cited

“Hypebeast” Urban Dictionary. 2013. Web. 13 Nov 2013. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hypebeast

Johnson, Roy S. “The Jordan Effect the world’s greatest basketball player is also one of its great brands. What is his impact on the economy?” Fortune. 22 June, 1998 Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1998/06/22/244166/

Koch, Richard (1994). The Financial Times A-Z of Management and Finance. Pitman, London.

Lammite, Rob. Snearkerheads: A Brief History of Sneaker Collecting. Mental Floss. 2013. Web. 12. Nov. 2013. http://mentalfloss.com/article/31500/sneakerheads-brief-history-sneaker-collecting

Martin, Suzy. Characteristics of a True Sneakerhead. About. 2013. Web. 12. Nov, 2013. http://sneakers.about.com/od/sneakers101/a/Sneakerhead.htm

“Nike History & Heritage.” NIKE. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. http://nikeinc.com/pages/history-heritage

“Nike: How Michael Jordan Built a Brand.” Now Public. 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. http://www.nowpublic.com/tech-biz/nike-how-michael-jordan-built-brand

Rovell, Darren. “How Nike Landed Michael Jordan.” ESPN. 15 Feb 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/dollars/post/_/id/2918/how-nike-landed-michael-jordan

Rovell, Darren, Baur, Brandon. Teenage ‘Sneakerheads’ Bet Thousands on High-Stakes Sneakers Trade. ABC News. 13 June 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/teenage-sneakerheads-bet-thousands-high-stakes-sneakers-trade/story?id=19393834

Sturken, Marita, Cartwright, Lisa. Consumer Culture and the Manufacturing of Desire. Oxford University Press. 2001.

Twitchell, James B.. An English Teacher Looks at Branding. Journal of Consumer Research. 31(2), 484-489.2004. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/422125

Tsai, Wan-Hsui Sunny. “HOW MINORITY CONSUMERS USE TARGETED ADVERTISING AS PATHWAYS TO SELF-EMPOWERMENT.” Journal of Advertising, Vol. 40. No.3 pp. 85-97. 2011. Print.

Tuttle, Brad. “Craziest Factoids about the Still Red-Hot Sneaker Craze.” TIME. 12 July, 2013. Web. 13 Nov, 2013. http://business.time.com/2013/07/12/craziest-factoids-about-the-still-red-hot-sneaker-craze/#ixzz2kkda9DSc

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