Inside the Nike & Converse EHQ

Last week a group of second year students led by Jo Watson and Casimir Morreau, were invited to Nike’s European headquarters. There they were treated to an afternoon of all things Nike & Converse, insight into what it’s like being a branding intern for the Olympics and what AMFI’s very own Eleonora Kalabokas is up to at her internship. Second-year FB student Orla Tiffney gives a firsthand account:

“On what was a blisteringly hot day for an Irish girl like myself, I was able to retreat into the cool depths of Nike EHQ with six of my fellow students. We kicked the day off “Nike Style” with a slick video depicting one boy’s journey, chopping and changing from sport to sport, not only revealing the huge range of categories Nike caters to, but also acting as a metaphor for the thunderous work pace and the ability people here must have to adapt to change at any moment.

Nike EHQ - Reception

Upon entering the Nike EHQ in Hilversum.

Following this, we were introduced to two current interns Baas and Miekko, both involved in Category Running. Baas focuses on Womenswear, Miekko focuses on the Track and Field Olympic Team. Their roles involve weekly calls with the Global HQ in Portland, Oregon, to understand the vision on global creative direction, which they then adapt in order to be effective as a European strategy. They are involved in daily calls with the six smaller European territories Nike has established, including the UK, the Benelux & Northern Africa, to exchange information and evaluate results.

Miekko has the extra fun, and work, of being the Brand Olympic intern. Currently he’s involved in photo shoots and stats collection with all Track & Field athletes, creating a subsequent digital hub with the results. He is also tracking the consumer’s journey to the big event in Rio, trying to determine what products need to be launched and leveraged where and what sorts of events will be the most successful in each territory. Such focus will allow the whole campaign to be as effective as possible.

Nike EHQ - history in the offices

The history of Nike and sport runs deep.

Next we made our way to Converse EMEA HQ to meet up with third-year Fashion & Branding student Eleonora Kalabokas, who’s an intern there. Along the way we were met by a light installation made out of Chuck Taylor All Stars suspended in the stairwell, creating a scene of gritty sophistication. A plethora of art, including Delta, also hung on the concrete walls inside, “Our space is about one year old and designed by the Converse art director,” explained Eleonora as she showed us around. I could definitely feel that!

Converse EHQ

Sometimes shoes speak louder than words.

Around 120 people make up the team at Converse, meaning that Eleonora gets to meet and liaise with people from the sales, merchandising, finance and IT departments. Similar to the experiences of the Nike interns, she is given a lot of responsibility, and is expected to manage multiple tasks simultaneously. The marketing team there is relatively small but very diverse, allowing Eleonora to experience the many facets of marketing: from brand management and retail, to brand communication and PR. Some of the things she mentioned specifically were coordinating the marketing promotional stock and product seeding flow, project managing some of Converse’s largest PR events and monitoring and collating all market coverage. So no pressure there.

The group awaits the next stop: Converse.

The group awaits the next stop: the Nike store at headquarters.

We trouped back to Nike EHQ for our final presentation of the afternoon. This time our host was Paul, the Brand Manager of Nike Basketball & Jordan in Western Europe. He talked us through a pair of Wieden + Kennedy’s exceptional ads, including Together | LeBron James, cueing goosebumps all round. He told us how he made the journey to his current position, which took him his native Germany, Paris, Madrid, New York and Stockholm before coming to land in Amsterdam. He spoke about the subcategories going on within Basketball & Jordan, the strategies involved in driving them forward and we also held a candid chat about what it takes to pursue a career in a high­ performance company such as Nike.

Nike's EHQ

Inside of the EHQ’s retail space.

We covered a whole lot in the couple of hours that our visit lasted and the train ride home from Hilversum gave us enough time to catch our breath. That seemed to directly correlate to the attitudes in both companies; pack in as much punch as possible, you can rest later.


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