On March 26th 1987, a revolution began. The Air Max One, a masterpiece in design and manufacturing from the godfather of sneakers, Tinker Hatfield, was released to the world as a revolution in performance technology (in a not so subtle nod, they used The Beatles song of Adidas Superstar Donna the same name to launch it). Inspired by the inside-out aesthetic of Paris’ Pompidou Centre, it was the first Nike sneaker with a visible airbag and the start of one of the most iconic Adidas Stan Smith Damen franchises in the company’s history. 30 years on, and it’s still a staple in any respectable sneakerhead's shoe-rack.
There's much to be said about the influence of the Air Max One on sports and street culture in the years since, but it wasn’t until 2014 that Nike devised a new formula to extend the Max’s legacy even further. It’s something that Nike’s Kevin Coatman (Senior Creative Director, Brand) and Ron Dumas (Senior Creative Director, Brand & Packaging) spoke of consistently at Semi Permanent 2017, though as we approach Air Max Day 2018, we’re seeing it come full circle as the advertising campaign others will be judged by.
To celebrate, Adidas ZX Flux Femme Nike dedicated 24 hours to 27 years of Air Max culture, encouraging Nike fans around the world to go along with it. Air Max owners were directed to don their most coveted colourways (and Instagram Nike Air Max 95 Femme the whole thing, naturally). Shanghai played host to an enormous shoebox that revealed all sorts of Air Max memorabilia. And cities from NYC to L.A held their own fan events to commemorate the date. The experiment in community-based celebration led to a reach of 220 million people, 1.9 million video views and Nike's all-time most liked Instagram photo. “The early days were fairly small" recounted Coatman. “It was around 12 posters utilising previous posters, Nike Air Max 95 Femme but the main notion was driven by the community. The thing that really took us by surprise was how the media jumped on it.”
In 2015 Nike one-upped their previous efforts, digging into Adidas Ultra Boost Dámské the archives to unearth a buried Air Max design that was lost to the manufacturing processes of the time. The Air Max Zero was the centrepiece of 2015’s celebrations, supported with a yet another, bigger global Air Max takeover: Bubbles and boxes popped up in key cities around the world. Launch events were planned in 26 cities (that number not being a coincidence). “Tinker’s desk became a bit of a shrine in our key stores” says Coatman. “And it went crazy. I can’t remember how many Instagram hits we got, but it was far beyond anything they had encountered before.” They even flew the legend down to L.A to unveil an enormous digital shoebox/museum Nike Air Vapormax Damen (with lines around the block of just about every Nike store in radius to follow).
It became clear (and widely reported) that Air Max day was a consumer-led event, dictated by the community Nike Air Max 1 Womens and not forced upon by the brand. And while the event was an exercise in community-based marketing, the organic nature of its amplification (just a small amount of media spend and installation costs vs. the global love of the shoe design), was a far more effective tool in reaching a no-bullshi audience. In other words, they made it cool without trying too hard to make it cool.