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MIKE FRIOLO: THE MAN WHO SET THE BAR FOR PACQUIAO NIKE DESIGNS -- PART II


PhilBoxing.com




This is a four-part article/interview on Mike Friolo, the Nike designer of Pacquiao's Nike brand. Click here to read Part I.

Oliver: I read that you had a collaboration with fellow Nike colleague Chris Harkness on the very first shoe (white/gold/red) that Nike released for Manny Pacquiao in May 2009. Those who follow you want to know if this was indeed the very first project you did for the Pacquiao brand? If not, then what was it?

Mike: The project wasn't all that big of a deal then since popular athletes were signed on a regular basis. I was briefed to work on a little branding and logo work, some shirts and some shorts. I became obsessed with the whole thing. The branding came first, the MP logo, then the Crest, the robe came later and then it snowballed after that. The more fights Pacquiao won, the greater demand there was for more gear, shoes, graphics and packaging.

I stepped into something that was so much bigger than myself and I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked with me on all the projects especially Chris Harkness for keeping it together. I had a term for it -- an “extreme” endeavor -- for everyone involved. You have to understand that these projects transpired at short periods of time -- from 3 months to 6 months -- we were always under the gun. As everyone had other responsibilities and projects, no one was solely dedicated to the Pacquiao project since everyone had regular day jobs! It takes a small army to make things happen and this project was no exception. I was fortunate enough to be part of such an extraordinary team. 




Mike Friolo's crest studies on Nike's Pacquiao brand.

Oliver: How about Manny’s Official Crest, did you craft that too? What did those symbols stand for?

Mike: Pacquiao's crest is a visual representation of his life and Filipino culture. Many things inspired it and it is packed with icons and symbols which meant a lot to him and to all Filipinos. Everything in there had meaning and stories to tell. If I have learned anything from working at Nike, it may be their mantra of "craft a story, create the narrative." Become invested on it and people will appreciate that on all levels. In the end, I was surprised to learn things about myself and appreciate my own heritage even more. In a way, this project taught me something that I never expected about myself and what it means to be part of a culture. It was a humbling experience.

Oliver: Being the lead Nike designer then, I assume you had the chance to be introduced to the “PacMan” himself, Manny Pacquiao? How was it like?

Mike: Yes, I have met him on a few occasions. It was great to collaborate with him and the team. His inputs were crucial to the final outcome of this project. He relayed some good ideas to me and my team and I felt that by him doing so, he has put his trust on me. I hope it was from me being a good designer and maybe a little of being Filipino. 

Oliver: Some sneaker forums claim that you were “laid-off” in 2009 and was replaced by one of your Nike colleagues, hence the simple design prints in the succeeding Nike “PacMan” apparels and shoes. I am cognizant of the truth that this topic is pretty sensitive but your followers were unanimous with only one query: How come a man doing a great job for the Pacquiao brand was suddenly out of the picture?

Mike: It is what it is. Many folks were let go that day and it didn't seem to matter what you worked on. Two weeks after I was let go, I was asked to work on designs for the Pacquiao-Cotto fight. To see the shift of the design work though has been interesting.

I can't say I love it. It feels like it has lost some of its focus and has been created for a wider audience which is great, but it should be a reminder to whom Pacquiao fights for --- for his family, for his countrymen and for all his fans all around the globe.

As many athletes become more successful in their careers, they lose sight of how they got there in the first place, and that's only my opinion. I'd like to see the designs come full circle and really represent Pacquiao. I guess that approach was what I injected into the project. For me, he was not just an athlete. I really dug onto his psyche and tried to balance what was right for him and Nike. To me, he should not be treated only as a commodity. Here was a man with a story to tell and embraced by his adoring fans who were as passionate as him.

CONTINUE READING ON PART III ...


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Oliver Iglesias.


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