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What ever happened to the great sneaker commercials?

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The resurgence of sneakers as a popular form of fashion and expression have spawned a new wave of marketing strategies, cannibalizing the thing that got many of us older sneaker lovers hooked…the commercials.

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s Michael Jordan’s sneakers weren’t retros, but rather a signature line for what was becoming the greatest player to ever step foot on the court.  So Nike, being the great sneaker company that they are, created some of the coolest commercials; not just in the history of sneakers, but also in the history of TV.

It started with Jordan, but all of their top signature athletes like Penny Hardaway, Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley and Ken Griffey Jr. had great commercials to market their shoes.  Characters like Mars Blackmon, Johnny Kilroy and Little Penny became as cool as the athletes that they were intertwined with.  As a kid, these commercials were more riveting than the TV shows or games that the sneakers were being aired on.

But what do the kids today get?  Where are the great commercials for today’s signature athletes?  Where are the cool cartoonish characters to interact with LeBron James or Blake Griffin or Kevin Durant or Calvin Johnson?

It makes plenty of business sense though.  Commercials are expensive to produce and in the era of DVRs and On Demand, they’d get overlooked or fast-forwarded.  It’s not worth all the time and money when the shoes sell out fast and you can utilize and create demanded and hype-using platforms that didn’t exist 20, 15, 10, or even 5 years ago.

Don’t worry though, we got you.  If you’re an old head in this game like me, then you’ll enjoy the walk down memory lane.  If you’re a young sneaker lover or newbie, sit back and watch some of the most innovative commercials in the history of television, as I have attached a dozen of my favorite sneaker commercials.

Let us know what you think.


As always be sure to check out @TheDonDrew 


  1. Aweigh man I remember these commercials growing up from Elem to High School. I especially liked the Penny commercial spoof off of the MJ J12’s slow mo commercial in 1997…Classic.

  2. I also remember the Johnny Kilroy commercial, I believe, during the 1995 Super Bowl. Instant Classic!!

  3. The sneaker community/movement is so crazy that shoe companies really don’t have to spend money on advertisement. Now they can just tweet their releases to the masses and all the blog sites just go crazy with it. After Nike tweeted the DB 3 info, all the sneaker sites took it and ran with it. They shoe hype is crazy nowadays. The commercials are more for entertainment now. On the business side, commercials might be a waste of money. There’s just no need for them anymore. That’s just my take on it. Makes me miss the late 80’s & 90’s. BO KNOWS was definitely a favorite. Good read.