After what felt like a brief downfall in the mid 2010s, Nike’s 2017–2018 run could not have solidified its dominance more over rival brands like Adidas, Under Armour and Puma. Nike, valued at $28 billion in 2018 according to HighSnobSociety, is still the highest over any other brand. That dominance has carried into the new year. From collaborations with American fashion designer and Louis Vuitton’s Men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, to Supreme, to hip-hop giants like Drake, Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, it is safe to say Nike still has its foot on the competitions’ throats.
When Kanye West began his reign with Adidas in 2013, it was a huge move for hip-hop and sports brands. While the Yeezys are of course still tremendously popular, they are starting to become less coveted than Virgil Abloh’s The Ten collaboration with Nike and Travis Scott’s new Jordan 1’s and 4’s. Fashion is of course all about trends, but Nike’s ability to target multiple hip-hop artists to elevate their brand has been imperative for their brand and fan base.
Nike loves to have a big name star as the face of its product. After Kanye had left Nike it felt as if the company had a couple years without a big name in the world of hip-hop. It seemed to have started again with Jordan brand and Drake in 2015, when Drake and Future released the iconic “Jumpman” song on their collab album “What a Time to be Alive.” That collab led Drake to have multiple collections with the Jordan brand while also gaining an endorsement deal with Nike. Kendrick Lamar would soon have his own renditions of the classic Nike Cortez, and Travis Scott released his multiple Cactus Jack 4 colorways with more to be released.
No better moment depicts Nike’s dominance than in October 2018 when Drake brought out Lebron James and Travis Scott in Los Angeles at the Staples Center to perform the number one song in the U.S. at the time, “Sicko Mode.” The classic lines in that song include, “Jump out boys, that’s Nike boys hopping out coupes..” and “Checks over stripes, that’s what I like yeah, that’s what we like” were performed by the three Nike endorsers.
Not only do Nike and hip-hop have a tremendous relationship, Nike is still stamping its dominance in the world of sports. Nike and Jordan sponsored and endorsed teams like the France National Team, North Carolina Tar Heels, Villanova, Clemson, Alabama. These and many more teams have all won their respective championships while wearing the famous Nike swoosh. Nike has the majority of sponsorships with Jordan for the top collegiate teams, as well as being the sponsored brand for the NBA and NFL. Milwaukee Bucks NBA Star Giannis Antetokounmpo is the latest superstar to have his own signature shoe, The Freak 1, nickname ‘Greek Freak’. It is set to be released during the NBA playoffs, according to Nike representatives and ESPN sources. Their branch out to Antetokounmpo’s international audience will be extremely popular because the Greek Freak has an incredible journey and story. Antetokounmpo having this signature is big news for him, his country and a team like Milwaukee which has found great success so far with the him.
It would be impossible to forget Nike’s controversial but nicely executed run in the last year with its ad campaigns. Some would call their advertisements infamous, but little do they know that the controversial stances Nike has had with Colin Kaepernick and the “It’s only crazy until you do it” campaign did not hurt the company. There were a lot of mixed reviews and divided stances on the campaign across the nation. Even though there were reports saying that Nike’s stock was falling, the company was actually able to do even better in sales after the fact. This campaign may have cleansed the old and ignorant audience that they once had and solidified the type of audience that they are trying to target.
Nike has also pushed for female ads and the equal rights movements, with Serena Williams being the recent face. The campaign shows multiple women who are at the top of their respective fields to highlight their desire for equal pay. The U.S. Women’s International Soccer team is also a huge part of that campaign as many of the U.S. players have used their voice to call out unequal pay. Stances like these are bold for a company to take, but again it is Nike who is the brand that is making the right call and doing good with their enormous platform.
Nike has consistently been at the top of the game and has always been a step ahead which is what makes the company outlast the others. The company is able to create its products for all types of audiences; making one believe that they too can be a star while wearing Nike’s equipment or clothing. Nike has the upperhand in collaborations with street fashion brands like Supreme. Nike has faced the superstars like Stephen Curry with Under Armour, Kanye West with Adidas and now recently Jay-Z with Puma, but Nike is continuing to outlast the others and pushing its brand further than the rest. As Travis Scott says himself, “Nike boys we don’t do three stripes!”