Sneaker makers now filling shoeboxes with more than just shoes

Posted on Thu Oct 22 2009

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It used to be that you'd buy a pair of sneakers, put them on and throw out the box, and that would be it. OK, you might keep the box around for a while to store your baseball cards in, but there was nothing useful in the box itself except the shoes. Lately, though, sneaker makers seems to be learning from cereal companies like Kellogg and General Mills and are including a prize inside. New Balance, for instance, last month put a Polaroid of its sneaker inside every box of ultra-exclusive 574 Clips (only 480 pairs were made). On the backs of those pictures was a code where owners could go online to "claim" video footage of their exact pair of shoes, filmed at the factory or elsewhere. Now, Nike has done something similar this month with its CTR360 soccer boot. Each box contains not only a pair of the boots, but a unique code that the new owner can enter online to get coaching instruction from Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal and Andrés Iniesta of FC Barcelona, among others. While the online angle is fresh, the sneaker industry is actually catching up to Cracker Jack, which began putting prizes in its boxes in 1912.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Nike's latest hunt for talent leads to British rapper Dizzee Rascal

Posted on Fri Sep 18 2009

Nike, always on the lookout for the next hip artist or athlete, has paired with Dizzee Rascal for a limited-edition Nike Air Max 90 Tongue N' Cheek sneaker. For those unfamiliar, Dizzee is a British rapper. The "Tongue N' Cheek" in the shoe's name refers to his next studio album, due out Monday. The shoes are in limited release in the U.K., but the move may get Nike some props here as well—Rolling Stone named Dizzee's 2004 album Boy in da Corner one of the top 50 albums that year, and he's a critics' darling at Pitchfork, which noted that "shoe companies have realized that sneaker dorks and rap dorks are, more often than not, the exact same people."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Famous Footwear thinks kids love shoes as much as ice cream

Posted on Mon Aug 10 2009

As part of its "Make Today Famous" campaign, footwear retailer Famous Footwear has launched a microsite, MakeTodayUnexpected.com, which features a video, shown here, of school-aged children chasing an ice cream truck. Point is, searching for the perfect pair of shoes is a treat in and of itself, so the kids each get a pair of super-cool shoes once they've caught up with the truck. But back-to-school shoe shopping and delectable frozen treats? Somehow, we just don't see the two going together. Maybe it's because we used to walk with our Mommy 10 blocks up the street in the scorching heat to buy the one pair of shoes we could wear to class. (Hey, it was Catholic school. Rules are rules.)

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Nike crushes Converse in a battle of skateboarder commercials

Posted on Wed Jul 29 2009

Since Converse's attempt to co-opt skateboard rebellion flat-out sucked, Nike decided to take a shot at it for Paul Rodriguez's third shoe. The results are better than expected. Setting fairly inoffensive street skating to "Today Was a Good Day" is the most laughably white creative decision I've ever seen, but the spot is saved by Ice Cube playing the Mr. Wilson role and running over Paul's board. There's also a Web-exclusive extended version of this spot in the works—it premieres on Nike's Web site on Friday. No idea what they could possibly extend here, but maybe they'll explore Rodriguez's passing resemblance to Adrian Grenier, or have grumpy old Ice Cube run over more of his possessions. But all nitpicking aside, the shoes themselves were worked into the spot pretty well, and the synchronization between the tricks and the song's lyrics was clever (particularly that "hit the switch" moment). At the very least, Nike comes out looking somewhat knowledgeable about skateboarding.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

For some reason, Asics creates world's largest Lite-Brite picture

Posted on Thu Jul 16 2009

Asics

Asics is hosting a nationwide series of music festivals throughout the year to promote its new SportStyle shoe collection. And guess what they're bringing with them to lighten up the campaign? The world's largest Lite-Brite picture! The 11-by-15-foot depiction of the GEL-Lyte III shoe took six months to build and features over 300,000 of those pegs I used to choke on as a kid. The Hasbro toy has illuminated homes with colorful pegs and lighted backgrounds since 1967. So, rather than view Asics' endeavor as a giant waste of time and money, let's consider it a nostalgic relic of pop-culture. It's already made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records and has begun making appearances at boutiques and major music events around the country. OK, so which brand will bring us a giant Lego campaign? A supersized spin-off of Mr. Potato Head? A modern life-sized remake of Candy Land? Only time will tell.

—Posted by Allison Shafir

Is New Balance on the level with its 'Made in the USA' campaign?

Posted on Fri Jun 26 2009

New Balance took a while to capitalize on America's concerns about sketchy imports, but they've finally come through with their "Made in the USA" campaign, combining traditional advertising (print, media, radio) and an online documentary to prove just how American they are. Admittedly, the whole thing is a little corny—it's nearly impossible for me to see the human flag on their Web site and not think of a certain hilarious Garrison Keillor monologue. But they also have a point. New Balance is the only major athletic-shoe maker still operating stateside. Everyone else has shipped all their work overseas, to countries with few worker safety laws and even fewer sexual taboos. But here's what the campaign doesn't spell out: New Balance makes only one-quarter of its shoes in the U.S. They have one factory in England. Where do the rest of their shoes come from? China, it would seem. So much for the moral high ground.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

Puma getting happy feet for an upcoming dance battle fantasy

Posted on Fri Apr 10 2009

Puma

What do you get when you cross the WWE with Dance Fever and throw in a little Pokemon for good measure? Why, it's the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. And sport-lifestyle brand Puma will be the debut footwear sponsor of the dance battle fantasy property from choreographer Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets) that will soon invade all media. The only thing that could be better is the project I'm currently shopping, which is titled Every Which Way But Footloose.
  "Puma is a lifestyle brand [that] hosts dance battles—they have a solid position in the dance space, so it's a natural segue with them," says Shannon Pruitt, svp of sponsorship and integrated marketing for Agility Studios, which is completing the first round of 10 weekly Web chapters of LXD, which will debut on a yet-to-be-announced Web site in May or June. As the official footwear sponsor, Puma gets partner rights to the title and all extensions, which could include live events, wireless, instructional video, film, TV, licensing and merchandising.
  In the Web series, Puma will shod dancer characters with its sneakers, mostly its new 917 model, which is available in low- and high-top versions with a variety of uppers at Puma Concept Stores, store.puma.com and other retail outlets. Puma will also be written into the chapters' plotlines, which will explore the origins of the dance battle characters, Shannon says. Got room for an orangutan who just wants to boogie?

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

Segway realizing most people are lazy and just want to sit down

Posted on Tue Apr 7 2009

Segwaypuma copy

The Segway scooter was a cool idea, but it's big downside was that people had to actually stand up on it—something fewer Americans are willing and/or able to do nowadays. This prototype of a new Segway vehicle, then, is much more promising. It's the P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility) prototype, and it's designed to provide efficient urban transport for people who don't want their utter laziness compromised. (General Motors is also involved in the P.U.M.A., but that doesn't necessarily mean it's doomed.) If Segway can convince people that these things are actually safe to drive, the company could reclaim its once-shining reputation as an innovator in transportation. At least until Kevin James takes the P.U.M.A. for a spin.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

UPDATE: The only people who'd be understandably miffed about P.U.M.A. at this early stage are the folks at Puma, the athletic footwear company. "It's an acronym, so they're probably protected," says Antonio Bertone, CMO at Puma, who adds that he's gotten "about 7,000" e-mails about the new Segway vehicle. Bertone didn't know how seriously Puma's management will take P.U.M.A., but he did point out an interesting overlap: Michael Taylor, Segway's director of product marketing, used to work at Puma. Taylor could not be reached for comment. —Todd Wasserman 

Earth-friendly packaging is great, except when it doesn't work

Posted on Fri Jan 9 2009

Newton copy

Here's some funky athletic-shoe packaging by TDA in Denver for Newton Running. It's been getting lots of attention for its egg-carton-ish design, which would cut down on the amount of already Earth-friendly material being used. It's been featured on various design blogs, in Communication Arts and on Treehugger, where there was quite a bit of rejoicing. Unfortunately, it won't see the light of day.
  "We're a little late to the party here," a Newton rep says near the bottom of the Treehugger comments string, "but we were frankly surprised by all the media coverage of a box that we never actually produced. ... The shoebox featured in this story was designed by our advertising agency and submitted to several design competitions. We liked this design but after a lot of research we discovered it is not very sustainable for us to produce or ship the molded pulp shoe boxes."
  Newton goes into more detail on its own blog, where it shows off the shoebox it's chosen instead—a regular rectangular one that uses 100-percent post-consumer waste and soy-based inks. The other design? Not much more than a pretty package.
  Via @Takeoff and Lovely Package.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Adidas Originals finds its groove with a Frankie Valli song

Posted on Wed Dec 17 2008

It's hard to imagine a hipper scene than the one portrayed in the latest TV ad for the Adidas Originals brand. The spot, celebrating Adidas's 60th anniversary, shows a rockin' house party crashed by, among others, Katy Perry, D.M.C. (of Run-D.M.C.), Russell Simmons, David Beckham and Method Man. Even harder to imagine: a more unlikely song for everyone to be grooving to. It's Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' 1968 hit "Beggin' "—not the original, but a remix by Parisian producer Pilooski.
  Truth be told, it's catchy as hell and fits the commercial's retro/of-the-minute vibe perfectly. Kristian Manchester, creative director and partner of Sid Lee, the Montreal agency that created the ad, said the shop went through thousands of songs before finding this one. Originally, he says, they were looking for a Motown or Stax/Volt tune, but "every time you find a great song, someone would ask, 'Was that in a car ad?' "
  Only after committing to the track did Manchester find out it had been a huge club hit in Europe in the summer of 2007. Still, he's happy with the choice. "It had the right rhythm and tempo and was a little nostalgic," he says. "It felt like it was from a lost party."
  Fans take note: Adidas plans to offer seven different remixes of "Beggin' " on its Web site.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman


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