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NIKE announced to analysts this week that they would ‘elevate’ their relationships with running retailers. We at RunBlogRun find that decision quite satisfying, but as a public service, due to the fact that most folks at NIKE with a history of seeing cycles of love and loathing in Running Retail are gone, fired or retired, we would humbly like to offer five suggestions:

1. NIKE needs an ambassador to Running Retail. About fifteen years ago, NIKE was about to be kicked out of the Running Event. Retailers we so tired of the lack of interest that NIKE was showing at the running retail culture, that they wanted them out of their most important trade event. If it had not been for Freddy Doyle, a long term NIKE employee (top 20 GBTC marathoner with 2:20 PB) and a guy who could get the devil and Michael the Archangel to have a beer. NIKE needs someone who gets running, who gets the NIKE culture and who has the ear of management, that simple.

2. NIKE needs to create product unique to Running Retail. Colors, launches, exclusive product that can be purchased by brick and mortar stores and ON THEIR WEBSITES. Help make their sites sticky, build content that can ONLY be found on running retail sites.

3. NIKE needs to go old school. Have on site media events for running. Act like Running really matters. Bring in running media, not just content creators who make NIKE happy, and key shoe reviewers. Provide them access to the product.

4. NIKE needs to act as if running retail is the ONLY way to truth and enlightenment. NIKE has screwed this pooch several times now. General George Patton noted that he was not good with paying for real estate twice. Whey does NIKE does this every 7 years, where they forget that running gave them their start?

5. NIKE needs to listen to real runners again. That means speaking to coaches, athletes, retailers who did not use
NIKE. NIKE needs to hear the bad stuff, and it will be absolutely terrible. Phil Knight is a wonderful example. He hired John Slusher, Sr. a guy who so annoyed Knight that he noted, “hire that S.O.B.”

NIKE is the biggest player in this market. Each hiccup that the Swoosh had allows another brand or two to surge. But here is the issue, as one former NIKE CEO said, “The first billion is pretty easy to reach. But that next million…”. NIKE has given at least ten brands a raison d’etre. Why?

Arrogance. NIKE has to stop being arrogant. Remember Steve Prefontaine, the young star athlete that the brand holds up as critical to their DNA.

Want to know a story few know about Pre? Okay. After the Munich 1972 Olympic 5,000 meters, where Pre took fourth, he and David Bedford caught up and lived in a liquid medium for many hours. Bedford told me that he quite liked Pre and that Pre was trying to figure out what he had done wrong.

And Pre did. He came back from that nightmare, and was focused on winning in Montreal. He turned down $200k to run on the Professional circuit to build to Montreal.

If Pre was alive today, they would go completely ape shit crazy that NIKE has forgotten to reach out to real runners each and every day. NIKE needs to LISTEN once again.


It befuddles me that NIKE still has not learned that running is here to stay and that kissing  butt with the fashion gods is a cyclical event. Did not anyone learn anything from adidas and Kanye West? Come on!

And one more thing. Mark Parker, former NIKE CEO told me one time that he had a dinner with Steve Jobs, and he was enamored of the man. He asked Jobs how he could make NIKE better. Steve Jobs’ response, “Stop making shitty shoes.”

NIKE has know the answers to this connundrum for years.

Time to remember what running is for NIKE.

There is No Finish Line, NIKE. 

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