August 5, 2002

Mr. Phillip H. Knight

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Nike International Ltd
1 SW Bowerman Dr
Beaverton, OR 97005

Dear Mr. Knight,

I would not be surprised if you never heard of the NoGraf Network, Inc. It’s a relatively new 501(C)3 non-profit which links individuals, worldwide, who are involved in a contemporary facet of urban warfare. Although our members have various specialties, including law enforcement, education, prosecution, community-based organizations, and abatement., they are linked together because of their common involvement in combating graffiti. It’s a battle wherein communities look for allies, including corporate giants like Nike.

Clearly Nike embraces a noble, community-support ethic. You describe your co-founder, Bill Bowerman, not merely as “a guy who founded Nike,” but mention that he was a teacher, husband, father, and mentor, going on to state “Through his eyes we see the future.” It appears that your corporate vision, through Bowerman’s eyes, is precisely what the public yearns for, in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals.

Nike’s ethic, in this regard, was further refined at the April 29, 2002 ceremony wherein Nike presented $50,000 in grants to community organizations in Portland. Mr. Lee Weinstein, Nike’s Director of US Communications, stated, “Giving back to the community isn't part of what we do – it's part of who we are."

But if giving back to the community is part of who you are, our members have difficulty understanding Nike’s portrayal of graffiti as something “cool”. Your web site shows the graffiti artist “Nerv1” putting graffiti on a wall and observing that “Most people are phony” and “Blank walls need love, too.” But here’s some things that Nerv1should say, to present a complete and honest picture:

  • “The graffiti subculture has coined some words to describe how we are different, including ‘rack’ (stealing the paint we use) and ‘bombing’ (putting graffiti on as many walls as possible, in a neighborhood, in a short period of time). It’s cool!”
  • “Many youth died as a result of graffiti (falling off walls or bridges when doing “heavens” tags or being shot when mistaken for prowlers). Many others had their lives ruined by felony convictions and prison time. But so what! Most people are phony anyway!”
  • “If you get tired of paint on walls, you can etch graffiti on window panes with diamond-tipped drills or etching acid. We do it all the time. It’s cool!”
  • “US municipalities, every year, spend double the amount of Nike’s annual earnings to combat graffiti! We’re making an impact!”

I’m sure you get my point, Mr. Knight: Graffiti is not cool! Further, if Nike must dabble with graffiti or its images, your message should be unambiguous, that this vandalism is not cool! That truly would be looking to the future, and the future of the youth to whom you appeal, through the eyes of Mr. Bowerman.

Thanks for your time and consideration. I hope you will reconsider the message you are conveying at your web site.


Randy Campbell
Executive Director
The Nograf Network Inc.
P.O. Box 305
Yreka, California 96097