MK 354 Spring 2010

February 14, 2010

Run Faster, Jump Higher

Filed under: blog #3 — Tags: , , , , — Zach Cole @ 3:33 pm

The year was 1982. Basketball players were stronger and faster than ever, and they needed a sneaker that could keep up. Their tattered Converse Weapons and Chuck Taylors could no longer withstand the NBA’s furious pace while still providing the comfort that players demanded. Enter the Nike Air Force 1.

Promising a sneaker that would make players run faster and jump higher was a seductive pitch, and the fact that the sneakers were supposedly more comfortable and lightweight than others was equally advantageous. However, simply suggesting that a sneaker will provide players with a more comfy ride down the court and a cushioned landing atop the hardwood floors was not enough. Nike had to find a concrete way to show that the Air Force 1s would meet expectations.

It was rumored that Nike’s new shoes were so far ahead of the competition because the soles were infused with air. This was a great idea on Nike’s part because saying that running in these sneakers is like running on air is more concrete than simply saying that the shoes are comfortable. But who could be sure the air was really there? Was the idea concrete enough?

When The Nature Conservancy campaigned to save a certain region of somewhat unattractive wildlife, it found that giving the area a concrete name was enormously effective. Naming things gives people something they can wrap their minds around, thus making the named entity sticky (Heath, 103).  Nike took the same approach with the Air Force 1. Not only is the air in the sole suggested in the title of the shoe, but the word air is also physically legible on the back of the sneaker’s sole.

By having the word air written in concrete, tangible letters, Nike gave consumers an idea of what was inside the shoe that made it superior. Of course Nike eventually grew to create sneakers that showed an actual air pocket in the sole, which is just another step of concreteness that consumers could see, feel and touch. The reason that Nike’s idea of creating a visual representation of the air in the sole works so well is that it relates back to the core message about their products. Their products stand for the finest in performance athletic equipment, and air fits within that message perfectly. The concrete representation of air in the sneaker made Nike’s claims believable, launching Nike into the sneaker market’s elite.

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