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Pump It Up, Reebok (1989)

Do you remember when Reebok Pumps first came out? How many pair did you own? How did the pump actually work? Here are a few interesting elements to that story:

  • Reebok (named after an African gazelle which is actually spelled rhebok) began losing marketshare to Nike starting in 1987 thanks to His Airness, Michael Jordan.
  • Reebok Pumps were inspired by an inflatable ski boot made by Ellesse, a company Reebok had recently acquired.
  • High school students played a part in choosing the manual air pump design.
  • Reebok Pumps debuted at a February 1989 trade show. Nike was showing the Air Pressure in a private room at the same trade show. The difference: Nike’s new innovation required an exterior pump to inflate.
  • Reebok Pumps were released in November 1989. The initial price: $170!
  • Within a year, Reebok sold $500 million worth of Pumps; Nike’s Air Pressure total was $10 million.
  • Reebok got a commercial banned from television after only one showing.
  • Reebok went on to sale 20 million pairs of Pumps worldwide over the next 4 years.

Here’s the infamous commercial:

Portions of this article were curated from the following:




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