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Nike and its swoosh corporate symbol are among the most recognized brand names in world, alongside McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Disney. Starting in 1964 as a sport shoe outlet, the company grew to become the market leader in footwear and apparel. Nike has since diversified into a range of activities, including sports event promotion.

Owned by Phil Knight, Nike has become synonymous with world-class sport, especially through its sponsorship of events and elite athletes such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Nike is so ever-present in the sports consumers’ minds, that a survey conducted during the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games in 1996 revealed an extremely high awareness of Nike, despite that fact that Nike was not an official sponsor of the Games.

Nike’s success has, to a great extent, been due to the fact that the company and its swoosh symbol have become ubiquitous in consumers’ minds. Nike has even run television commercials without even mentioning its own name, being confident enough that the checkmark swoosh is more than enough to make the company known.

Phil Knight has been the main inspiration behind Nike and its corporate direction. A competent, although not elite, middle distance runner at the University of Oregon, Knight went onto Harvard business school where the Nike idea emerged out of a paper he developed for a class on entrepreneurship. Knight’s former coach, Bill Bowerman, developed lightweight running shoes that became the new company’s trademark in the early days. From these modest beginnings, Nike eventually grew to become the sports giant it is today.

Ironically, part of Nike’s status in the world of competitive sports merchandising has come from the attention it’s received by critics. A short article published in the early-1990s in Harper’s Magazine quickly mushroomed into an international outcry against ike’s practice of placing their factories in underdeveloped countries and paying workers below-subsistence wages. Nike quickly responded to the criticisms with a number of tactics to either divert attention away from the criticisms (ones that Knight, interestingly, at first denied), or by acknowledging the practices but claiming Nike was “cleaning up its act.”

In many cases, Nike has made an effort to create better working conditions for those in underdeveloped countries making shoes and other merchandise. However, the overall effect of Nike’s changes is not known, and several groups around the world regularly check, and often criticize, Nike’s labour practices.

Nike’s recent marketing extravaganzas include a $200 million (U.S.) deal with the Brazilian National Soccer Federation. It has been rumoured that Knight’s ego has much to do with Nike’s marketing strategies. Some critics have suggested that Knight’s hidden agenda is no less than controlling sports marketing and merchandising throughout the world. Nike’s corporate headquarters in Oregon reflect these aspirations. Nike’s buildings and surrounding grounds are constructed very much like a religious cathedral, only with elite athletes, and Knight himself, as the gods.


swoosh1  swoosh
Swoosh is the symbol of the athletic shoe and clothing manufacturer Nike.


of or belonging to a corporation: The company is concerned about its corporate image. (=the way it is regarded by the public) | The bank has both individual and corporate customers. | a key feature of our long-term corporate planning



in comparison with something :
His achievement may seem small alongside the great triumphs of 20th-century technology.
Athletics should  rank alongside  (= be equal to )  soccer and cricket as a major sport.


a shop, company, or organization through which products are sold
Benetton has retail outlets in every major European city.
a fast-food outlet


things that people wear on their feet, such as shoes or boots
outdoor footwear
You can buy shoelaces in the footwear department.


clothes; clothing: ladies’ ready-to-wear apparel
She looked lovely, despite her strange apparel.
men wearing protective apparel.
We sell a full range of sports apparel.

USAGE Compare
clothes, cloth, material, clothing, garment, and dress.
Clothes is the usual word for things we wear: She has some beautiful clothes. | Clothes are made from various kinds of cloth or material, such as wool or cotton: How much cloth/material will I need to make a pair of pants?
Clothing [U] is a more formal word for clothes.
A garment [C] (rather formal) is a single article of clothing.
A dress [C] is a kind of outer garment worn by women: What a pretty dress she’s wearing!, but in certain expressions dress [U] is a particular type of clothing: The men had to wear formal evening dress to go to the company dinner.


if a business, company, country etc diversifies, it increases the range of goods or services it produces
diversify (away) from
farmers forced to diversify away from their core business
diversify into
The company is planning to diversify into other mining activities.
We need to diversify the economy.
Our factory is trying to diversify (its range of products). (=to make a large number of different products)
a publishing company that is now diversifying into the software market



something that is synonymous with something else is considered to be very closely connected with it
synonymous with
Nixon’s name has become synonymous with political scandal.
She seems to think that being poor is synonymous with being lazy.


a set of questions that you ask a large number of people in order to find out about their opinions or behaviour
carry out/conduct a survey (=do a survey)

We conducted a survey of parents in the village.
survey of
survey of US businesses
survey shows/reveals (that)

The survey showed that Britain’s trees are in good health.


to show or allow (something previously hidden) to be seen:
ᅳopposite conceal
He may be prosecuted for revealing secrets about the security agency.a test that can reveal a teacher’s hidden skills
reveal (that)
He revealed that he had been in prison twice before.
reveal yourself (as/to be something)
The violinist revealed himself as a talented interpreter of classical music.
The curtains opened, to reveal a darkened stage.



appearing, happening, or existing everywhere:
We were plagued throughout our travels by the ubiquitous mosquito.
Coffee shops are ubiquitous these days.
a ubiquitous insect, like  the fly



a person, experience, place etc that gives you new ideas for something you do :
The seascapes of Cape Cod were her inspiration.
inspiration for/behind
He was the inspiration for Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Old Huntsman’.

competent  adjective

having enough skill or knowledge to do something to a satisfactory standard

ᅳopposite incompetent
A competent mechanic should be able to fix the problem.

very/highly/extremely competent
She’s a highly competent linguist.

competent to do something
I don’t feel competent to give an opinion at the moment.
He is the only party leader competent enough to govern this country.
a competent swimmer

My secretary is perfectly competent, but she doesn’t have much initiative.

His French seems quite good to me, but then I’m not really competent to judge.
a competent doctor

is he competent enough to manage the factory?


the act of being an entrepreneur


a person or thing of less than average weight



a special name, sign, or word that is marked on a product to show that it is made by a particular company, that cannot be used by any other company


not very great, big, or expensive
a modest increase in costs She had saved a modest amount of money.
The new service proved a modest success .
a modest house with a small garden
a modest rise in house prices
They were very modest in their demands. (=They didn’t ask for too much.)
modest ambitions


at last; in the end:
He worked so hard that eventually he made himself ill.
After many attempts she eventually managed to get promoted.
He eventually escaped and made his way back to England.
Eventually, she got a job and moved to London.


a very large successful company
the German chemicals giant, BASF
Honda is a giant in the international market


used when talking about a situation in which the opposite of what you expected happens or is true
Ironically, his cold got better on the last day of his holiday.


respect and importance that someone or something is given
ᅳsynonym prestige
the status given to education
Mandela’s status as a world leader



the way in which shops and businesses try to sell their products :
the director of merchandising


to grow and develop very quickly
New housing developments mushroomed on the edge of town.
cities that mushroomed around industrial centers
discontent mushroomed into rebellion


a public expression of anger:
There’ll be a great outcry if they try to close the firehouse.
The closure of the local hospital has caused a huge public outcry .
outcry against/about/over
a national outcry about the lack of gun control laws
outcry from
The proposed changes caused an angry outcry from residents.



underdeveloped country/region etc

a country, area etc that is poor and where there is not much modern industry
ᅳsee also developing country


subsistence allowance/payment etc
money that is paid to someone so that they can buy meals, pay for a place to stay etc



things that are produced in order to be sold, especially when they are shown for sale in a shop – used especially in business contexts
The merchandise is attractively displayed and the assistants are friendly and helpful.
The fire at the warehouse destroyed merchandise valued at over $2 million.
A range of official Disney merchandise was on sale.

They inspected the merchandise carefully.


considering or including everything
The overall cost of the exhibition was £400,000.
The overall result is an increase in population.
An overall winner and a runner-up were chosen.
We don’t want all the details now, just the overall picture.



work, especially physical work :
The garage charges £30 an hour for labour.
Many women do hard  manual labour  (= work with their hands ) .
Workers  withdrew  their  labour  (= protested by stopping work )  for twenty-four hours.  →   hard labour



1 a list of problems or subjects that a government, organization etc is planning to deal with
be high on the agenda/be top of the agenda  (= be one of the most important problems to deal with )
Measures to combat terrorism will be high on the agenda.
The government  set an agenda  for constitutional reform.
political/economic/legislative/domestic etc agenda
Our Centre has limited its research agenda to four areas.

2 the ideas that a political party thinks are important and the things that party aims to achieve :
The Republicans have stuck to their conservative agenda.


the central office or place where the people work who control a large organization, such as the police or army or a private company:

Our headquarters is in Geneva.
the headquarters of the United Nations
the company’s headquarters is in New York


(a) strong desire to do something or have something, esp. something great or important:

ᅳsynonym ambitiona

The colonial government could no longer ignore the political aspirations of the local people.
She has aspirations to become a great writer.
high level of political aspiration
aspiration of
the aspirations of the working classes
aspiration for
their hopes and aspirations for the future


the main church of a particular area under the control of a bishop
St Paul’s Cathedral