Nike’s Knight Passes Swoosh to New Leader

Nov 19, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

As a former track star at the University of Oregon and co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight knows something about competition and relay races. Mr. Knight’s career has been dedicated to making the Nike logo “swoosh” an international brand icon. Now, he has decided that it is time to hand the baton or “swoosh,” if you prefer, over to someone else.

Yesterday, Mr. Knight announced he would be stepping down as president and chief executive of Nike and turn over the running of the $12 billion athletic footwear and apparel company to William Perez. Mr. Perez has been the president and chief executive of S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. since 1996.

Under Mr. Knight, The Associated Press reports, “Nike pioneered celebrity-athlete endorsements of its products. The company signed basketball great Michael Jordan in 1984, turning him into a brand name with Air Jordan shoes.”

Mr. Knight will continue in his position as the chairman of Nike’s board of directors.

Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon said, “Those outside the company may see this as abrupt and significant. But I would suggest these are the best laid plans.”

Moderator’s Comment: What do you think are the most significant contributions Phil Knight has made in the areas of
consumer marketing and athletic apparel manufacturing and retailing?

George Anderson – Moderator

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