words // Nick DePaula
images // Josh Manus
Earlier this summer, Nike hosted its 8th annual Product Creation Experience for local Portland-area High School students, offering up a firsthand look at how several categories at the company operate. Not only can students learn about workplace dynamics that take place at Nike, but the 8-week program also challenges them to work in teams to build out their very own product assortments.
This year, three teams participated — Born Free, Create Your Shot and Magnify Your Goal — each meeting twice at night during the final months of the school year to create an extensively comprehensive collection. Nike employees volunteered their time to help guide each team throughout the program, and also spend time mentoring the students.
Much like how Nike product teams are provided with an inspiration brief overview for their collections, the students were given a brief centered around the Macrocosmic Effect, that is, “a representation of a smaller unit or entity by a larger one.” They were each given a specific global city and region to focus on, from Johannesburg to Berlin to Manila, with male and female consumers in mind. Largely, the exercise also worked to show the students through their research how consumers their age are very much alike in today’s modern digital era. Kids are dressing alike, listening to the same music and hold similar aspirations, more than ever.
Each team worked together with their Nike mentors to not only design footwear and apparel collections, but also craft full scale marketing strategies for their products, a logo, retail store build-out designs, social media and on-the-ground marketing plans, along with local event activation concepts. They even wrote, directed and filmed their own commercials. In just a few months, the students were able to apply business, design and marketing skills with professional guidance, to a beloved brand located right in their backyard.
“With the Nike Product Creation Experience, our mission is to provide mentorship and exposure to the youth, and be a point of inspiration through sports and education,” outlines Keith Parker, NPCE Program Director and Nike employee.
Each year, the program works in conjunction with the Portland-based Self Enhancement Inc. organization to identify local teens that can benefit from the Product Creation Experience’s lessons and learnings.
Founded in 1981 by local native Tony Hopson Sr., SEI offers educational programs, life skills and help to at-risk families, reaching more than 8,000 children and adults in the Portland region annually. The organization operates at a grand 62,000 square foot facility in northeast Portland, providing students with resources and facilities like a performing arts auditorium, gymnasium, dance studio, library, computer lab and science lab.
Self Enhancement typically takes students into their program between the ages of 8 and 10, and hopes to provide educational and emotional support all the way through each child’s mid-twenties, in order to one day become, as Hopson terms it, a “PCC” — a positive contributing citizen. Of the students enrolled at SEI, 90% initially score as either “high risk” or “severe risk.” Nevertheless, an average of 98% of SEI participants graduate from high school, and 85% of those go on to pursue higher education, an incredible accomplishment for Hopson Sr’s organization.
The Nike Product Creation Experience is just one of many initiatives that SEI’s students take part in, and as one of the event’s judges, I was able to witness firsthand how well each team created a strategy, presented their plan and showcased their teamwork along the way. Each team was judged on its presentation delivery, consumer connection, product offering and brand management strategy, with the winning team awarded an educational group trip to the east coast.
Read ahead for a detailed look at each team’s final product presentation, and congrats again to each student for completing the comprehensive NPCE program.
Continue reading to Page 2 for a look at Team Born Free’s presentation…