1890 - 1930
J.W. Foster and Spikes of Fire
Reebok's United Kingdom-based ancestor company was founded for one of the best reasons possible: athletes wanted to run faster. So, in the 1890s, Joseph William Foster made some of the first known running shoes with spikes in them. By 1895, he was in business making shoes by hand for top runners; and before long his fledgling company, J.W. Foster and Sons, developed an international clientele of distinguished athletes. The family-owned business proudly made the running shoes worn in the 1924 Summer Games by the athletes celebrated in the film "Chariots of Fire".
1950 - 1980
A Gazelle Named Reebok
A Company on the Move
In 1958, two of the founder's grandsons started a companion company that came to be known as Reebok, named for an African gazelle.
In 1979, Paul Fireman, a partner in an outdoor sporting goods distributorship, spotted Reebok shoes at an international trade show. He negotiated for the North American distribution license and introduced three running shoes in the U.S. that year. At $60, they were the most expensive running shoes on the market.
Freestyle Aerobics and Step Reebok
By 1981, Reebok's sales exceeded $1.5 million, but a dramatic move was planned for the next year. In 1982, Reebok introduced the first athletic shoe designed especially for women; a shoe for a hot new fitness exercise called aerobic dance. The shoe was called the Freestyle™, and with it Reebok anticipated and encouraged three major trends that transformed the athletic footwear industry: the aerobic exercise movement, the influx of women into sports and exercise and the acceptance of well-designed athletic footwear by adults for street and casual wear.
The Beginning of a Classic
Explosive growth followed, which Reebok fueled with product extensions - new categories in which it also became a leader. The Freestyle is now a "Classic" and is Reebok's best selling athletic shoe of all time. Reebok's performance aerobic shoes have progressed through several generations.
In the midst of surging sales in 1985, Reebok completed its initial public offering (stock symbol is NYSE: RBK). In the late 1980s, Reebok began an aggressive expansion into overseas markets.
Its products are now available in more than 170 countries and are sold through a network of independent and Reebok-owned distributors.
Creating innovative products that generate excitement in the marketplace has been a central corporate strategy ever since Reebok introduced the Freestyle shoe. In the late 1980s, a particular fertile period began with The Pump® technology and continues today, with breakthrough concepts and technologies for a host of sports and fitness activities.
In 1986 in Atlanta, Georgia, a fitness professional named Gin Miller suffered a knee injury and began stepping on her back step in an effort to rehabilitate her knee. So was the beginning of step training - soon to become Step Reebok®.
Reebok launched Step Reebok nationally in 1989 after conducting comprehensive scientific and biomechanical research that showed step aerobics was a highly credible and effective format for cardiovascular exercise. As a totally revolutionary and highly effective workout program, Step Reebok was successful in breathing new life into health clubs around the country. In its first ten years, Step Reebok became an international fitness phenomenon as millions of people in 16 countries used the program to stay in shape.
1990 - 2000
Marquee Athletes and Core Training
Fitness to Sports
In 1992, Reebok began a transition from a company identified principally with fitness and exercise to one equally involved in sports. It created a host of new footwear and apparel products for football, baseball, soccer, track and field and other sports. It signed numerous professional athletes, teams and federations to sponsorship contracts.
Signing Pro Athletes
In the late 1990s, Reebok made a strategic commitment to align its brand with a select few of the world's most talented, exciting and cutting-edge athletes. For several years now, the company has focused on those athletes who represent the top echelon of sports and fitness, among them Allen Iverson and Venus Williams.
Allen Iverson - When Reebok studied the deep and talented roster of prospective National Basketball Association draft selections in 1996, guard Allen Iverson was clearly the person it believed would generate the greatest excitement on the court and in the marketplace. After five successful years as on and off-court partners, Reebok and the NBA's MVP in 2000 signed a lifetime contract in November 2001. The deal guarantees Iverson remains a Reebok endorsed athlete throughout his professional career.
In 2000, Reebok again revolutionized how people exercise and train with its global introduction of Reebok Core Training and the Reebok Core Board. Widely used today by professional athletes, conditioned exercisers and beginners alike, this innovative workout is a dynamic strength and conditioning program that focuses on developing total body power by emphasizing the abs, torso and "core" muscles. The training program is based on athletic and physical therapy training principles, representing a significant shift in how to approach exercise and training by focusing on "quality" (not "quantity") of movement.
Central to the program is the Reebok Core Board, the first-ever exercise board offering three dimensional action that tilts, twists, torques and recoils with the body's movements. The board is adjustable, so as users build strength, they can change the board's resistance to create more versatile workouts. When used together, Reebok Core Training and the Reebok Core Board provide a highly effective, strength training workout that conditions the user for daily living, whether that be in sports, exercise classes or playing with children
New Leagues, New Looks
In December 2000, Reebok and the National Football League announced the formation of an exclusive partnership that serves as a foundation of the NFL's restructured consumer products business. The NFL granted a 10-year exclusive license to Reebok beginning in the 2002 NFL season to manufacture, market and sell NFL licensed merchandise for all 32 NFL teams.
The license includes on-field uniforms, sideline apparel, practice apparel, footwear and an NFL-branded apparel line. The agreement also gives Reebok exclusive rights to develop a new line of NFL fitness equipment. Reebok has created new market segmentations that include several new product categories, such as Equipment and Classics.
In August 2001, Reebok formed a 10-year strategic partnership with the National Basketball Association under which Reebok will design, manufacture, sell and market licensed merchandise for the NBA, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the National Basketball Development League (NBDL), the NBA's fledgling minor league.
Beginning in the 2004-05 season, Reebok will have the exclusive rights to supply and market all on-court apparel, including uniforms, shooting shirts, warm-ups, authentic and replica jerseys and practice gear for all NBA, WNBA and NBDL teams. Reebok will also have exclusive rights, with limited exceptions, to design, manufacture, market and sell headwear, T-shirts, fleece and other apparel products for all teams in most channels of distributions.
Reebok will also develop, market and sell an exclusive line of NBA-branded basketball shoes and expand their line of Reebok Classic fashion products to incorporate NBA-branded apparel. Prior to league exclusivity in 2004, there was a transition period in the 2001-02 season during which Reebok was on-court with 11 NBA teams and all WNBA and NBDL teams. The agreement expands to include 19 NBA teams in the 2002-03 season. Also in the 2002-03 season, Reebok will have the exclusive rights to design, manufacture, market and sell replica jerseys for all NBA, WNBA and NBDL teams.
In February 2002, Reebok and the Indy Racing League (IRL) formed a multi-year partnership naming Reebok the official outfitter of the IRL. As part of the agreement, Reebok will provide custom-designed, co-branded Reebok-Indy Racing League apparel to IRL officials and selected teams. The Reebok brand also will receive exposure through logos on race cars, team uniforms, transporters and other IRL promotional programs included in the promotional rights agreement.
Reebok-Indy Racing League co-branded merchandise will be sold at all 15 Indy Racing League events in 2002, including the Indianapolis 500, and also at all other events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Authentic co-branded Reebok-Indy Racing League merchandise will be available at all IRL events, via online, mail-order catalog and through select retail outlets.
The Indy Racing League is America's premier open-wheel, oval-track auto racing series, with headquarters in Indianapolis. It was founded in 1994 based on the rich traditions of the Indianapolis 500, with its first race in 1996. The league has a 15-race schedule in 2002, with events in major markets from coast to coast.
In February 2002, Reebok launched Rbk - a collection of street-inspired footwear and apparel hook-ups designed for the young man and woman who demand and expect the style of their gear to reflect the attitude of their lives - cool and edgy, authentic and aspirational. As Rbk is inspired by today's street fashion, its marketing needed to be culturally relevant as well.
A new global marketing campaign, called the "Sounds & Rhythm of Sport," was launched in January 2002, and it energized the industry by blitzing the market with Rbk product launches, television and print ads, consumer and retail promotions, and celebrity events.
The "Sounds & Rhythm of Sport" consumer and retail promotions include the Reebok/Interscope Records Present The Source Unsigned Hype Freestyle promotion, the EBC (Entertainers Basketball Classic) at Rucker Park, and the Reebok All Access Pass on NBA.com. Reebok also formed partnerships to preview the Rbk Collection in more than 1,000 music stores around the United States in advance of retail availability at more than 2,500 authorized Rbk dealerships.
The "Sounds & Rhythm of Sport" global marketing campaign features Reebok's NBA, NFL and tennis athletes paired with many of the music industry's edgiest hip-hop and rap artists. The television spots showcase the moves and motion of the athletes, who are energized by the rhythm of the artist's music
adidas-Salomon AG acquires Reebok
The transaction, which closed on January 31, 2006 marks a new chapter in the history of the Reebok Brand. The acquisition brings together two of the most respected and well-known brands in the worldwide sporting goods industry under one new organization - the adidas Group.
Both brands will benefit from a more competitive worldwide platform, well-defined and complementary brand identities, a wider range of products, and a stronger presence across teams, athletes, events and leagues.