July - Sept 2003, Other

Nike Unveils New Logo

NIKE UNVEILS NEW LOGO From Swoosh to Shwoosh
A Parody. For more Muslim humor check out: azhar.com.

Monday Sept 9, 2002 8:37 PM ET

By Choam Von Nomsky

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Multinational athletic footwear and apparel giant Nike, Inc. [NYSE: NKE] unveiled its new logo today, during a much anticipated press conference held in downtown Chicago at the company’s Michigan Avenue “Nike Town” location. The company announced that its new logo, a mere adaptation of the all-too-familiar “swoosh”, is known as a “shwoosh,” because it incorporates three diacritical marks in the shape of a triangle, just above the fading tail of the swoosh. The addition of the three dots, explained Mr. Charles Denson, 45, President of the Nike Brand, is in honor of the Arabic letter “shin,” the pattern, shape, and form of which served as the basis for the new logo.

Above: A pair of Max Airs featuring Nike’s
new shwoosh logo, which is modeled
after the Arabic letter shin.

“I recently visited Morocco,” explains Denson, “and there I observed the most beautiful calligraphic work I have ever seen.” The company has been in search of a new logo since the year 2000 due to the growth of negative brand associations owing to Nike’s outright oppressive business practices in the developing world. “Throughout my stay in Morocco, I felt like this one Arabic letter kept following me everywhere. It was almost as if it was haunting me – with its sharp, razor-like edges and its intimidating triple dot arrangement,” said Denson. “But when I arrived in Indonesia, a country where we have several plants set up to exploit young children and uneducated women workers, I started seeing the letter again, this time in more friendly environments.”

Business and political leaders from the Arab and Muslim worlds praised Nike for adapting the swoosh inhonor of an Arabic letter. “We so habby that American combany is liking our letter shin. We so broud of Arabic language, and we love everything American – we just wanna be Americans,” said King Fahd bin Abd al-Aziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and despotic leader of Saudi Arabia. President Parvez Musharraf of Pakistan, the United States’ most recent ally in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, could not be reached for comment concerning Nike’s announcement, although a spokesman for his administration said that Musharraf was “absolutely and unconditionally pleased with, and supportive of , everything that America, its corporations, allies, friends, and basically anyone in the world except America’s sworn enemies,

Members of the anti-corporate movement and some NGOs have condemned the new logo, however, claiming that it is an “affront to Arabian culture” and “disrespectful and insensitive” in this time of “heightened sensitivity across cultures.” Jim Keady and Leslie Kretzu, makers of the upcoming film Sweat: A Story of Solidarity, denounced Nike’s new shwoosh, calling it “yet another pathetic attempt to divert the public’s attention away from the real issue – that Nike is a tyrannical corporation that puts profit before people. ” Their film, Sweat, is a chronicle of their journey through Nike’s Indonesian sweatshops and the horrific conditions facing workers there.

In 1997, just five short years ago, Nike found itself under fire from the Muslim community for releasing a shoe that featured an insignia resembling the word “Allah,” which is the name of God in Arabic. When the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group in Washington DC, threatened the company with boycotts and litigation, the dispute was settled and the offending shoe was recalled.

Nike stock closed at just under $ 41 today, giving the company a nearly $ 11 billion market capitalization.