Off Brand

Nike’s CEO Is Out. Here’s Why It Marks the End of Corporate Creativity.

Creatives have long been hyped as enlightened CEOs. So why is an ex-Bain consultant replacing a former designer to lead the famous cultural operator?

Rob Walker
Published in
6 min readOct 24, 2019


Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty

TThe streetwear and youth culture site Freshness, largely devoted to news of limited-edition sneakers and the latest from edgy brands like Supreme, doesn’t devote a lot of attention to the titans of corporate America.

But in 2011, it made an exception for Nike CEO Mark Parker, publishing a huge collection of photos of the “frenzied collection of art and shoes” cramming Parker’s office. And it’s true: Parker has a lot of cool stuff, plus a “social network of art and music luminaries” that reportedly includes Kanye West, conceptual artist Tom Sachs, and “an uncanny eye for good design,” as the Wall Street Journal once put it.

It’s as if Nike has decided to shift control of its future from the intuitive and creative-led right brain to the analytical and data-intensive left brain.

Two days ago, Nike announced that after a 13-year run, Parker will hand over the CEO