Nike On Air

LOS ANGELES — Five years in the running now and Nike’s Air Max Day continues to be an important marketing tool to maintain momentum around its Air franchise.

The company’s celebration of the day it first released the Air Max 1 is big in the effort, but it’s also shifted and been reshaped to fit with shifts in how consumers interact with companies.

“We just realized there was this moment where we could celebrate that and share stories and the history of the shoes and everything around that, so that’s how it started five years ago and I think since then it’s completely evolved into something else,” said Nike Sportswear footwear senior design director Dylan Raasch.

Plenty of other companies have also seized on the marketing around the day. Foot Locker created special video content for its social media channels that touch on the Nike Air Max through the generations in what it’s calling the Discover Your Air Network.

Nordstrom with its Nordstrom x Nike sneaker pop-in is playing up the Air Max 720 sneakers. Revolve is also selling the Air Max 720 in addition to other Nike styles at a pop-up launching Thursday that’s tied in with the e-tailer’s festival collection.

Executive vice president and chief financial officer Andy Campion told analysts on a conference call last week discussing the company’s quarterly results that the Air Max 720 launched “to strong demand” in the three-month period ended Feb. 28.

Nike chief executive officer Mark Parker called out the Nike Air franchise during that same call, saying it helped drive the company’s third-quarter results, and more specifically styles such as the women’s Air Max Dia and Air Max 720. The former is yet another move by the sportswear company to continue to build firmer footing within the women’s marketplace, offering more fashion-forward styles for day-to-day use outside of sport.

“We see women embracing the sneaker culture more and more every day,” Parker told analysts on the call. “So we’re scaling up popular models and creating new models for women specifically and the response, like with the Air Max Dia for example, one of the newer models, has been tremendous also.”

Nike Inc. closed its third quarter ended Feb. 28 with revenue up 7 percent to $9.6 billion, or up 11 percent on a constant currency basis.

This year’s Air Max Day in particular is indicative of just how much the company aims to remain in lockstep with how consumers want to interact with brands. The day includes workshops around industrial design, graphics and use of color and materials in an educational series the company has dubbed Department of Unimaginable, which Raasch called an intertwining of scientific and creative themes.

“I don’t know if it’s this new generation getting more and more creative or more involved in the product, but they’re definitely more interest in the behind-the-scenes,” Raasch said.

Consumers more and more just want to be involved with the process. Last year Nike invited people in for its On Air contest, which involved workshops in New York, London, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo, soliciting attendees for their unique designs on styles from the Air family of footwear. Finalists were selected and then narrowed down to six winners picked to work with Nike designers to actually develop their shoes.

New York City winner Gabrielle Serrano, a sneakerhead studying medicine, wanted to highlight the diversity of her hometown and the people making up the city while also paying homage to her family with her Air Max 98 La Mezcla.

“When I saw [the sample] the first time in person, I don’t think it hit me that something I had drawn was made,” she said.

The winning styles launch in April at all Nike stores, the company’s SNKRS app and some retail partners.

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