By Drew Hammell
From 1995 to 1997, Nike unleashed one of the most memorable ad campaigns in sneaker history. The “Phone Ads” were simple, yet effective. One innovative shoe after another was portrayed on a white background with a red Swoosh logo, and a phone number at the bottom. By the end of Spring ’97 however, the minimalist campaign came to an end, and Nike started showcasing their latest models with email addresses instead of phone numbers.
Heading into the final few years of the 20th century, methods of communication were evolving quickly. The World Wide Web was becoming mainstream. Households across the United States were installing dial-up modems, and each family member was creating their own personal email address. A veritable new age was beginning, and Nike created ads to demonstrate they were in tune with the cultural shift.
Along with the communication evolution came an evolution in Nike Air technology. In 1995, Nike introduced visible Air Max cushioning in both the heel and forefoot of sneakers like the Air Max 95 running shoe. The logical next step was visible Air Max cushioning throughout the entire sole. One of the first sneakers to feature this technology was the Air Ubiquitous Max.
Created for football star, Jerry Rice and boxer, Roy Jones, Jr., the Ubiquitous Max was a cross trainer designed for the two athletes’ most rigorous workouts. “Ubiquitous” literally means “everywhere,” or “all around,” and that’s exactly where the Air cushioning could be seen and felt.
Featuring synthetic leather and a breathable mesh upper, the Ubiquitous boasted the first anatomically correct dual-pressure full-length Air-Sole unit. It also sported a Phylon midsole wrap reinforced with an injection molded TPU shield, and the carbon rubber outsole with forefoot grooves added flexibility.
It was truly a revolutionary shoe, so the transition from old-school phone numbers to new-school email addresses in the Nike ads made sense. In the top right corner of the Ubiquitous Max print ad, the email read, “firstname.lastname@example.org.” This email was so goofy, it appeared Nike didn’t take the email phenomenon too seriously. As Nike revealed more email ads, they used similar funny addresses, such as “email@example.com” for the Air Zoom Hawk Flight, and “firstname.lastname@example.org” for the Air Foamposite One.
Once again, Nike was ahead of the game in terms of technological breakthroughs, and they were adapting to the changing methods of advertising and communication (even if they didn’t quite buy into them yet). The ad for the Ubiquitous was still relatively simple – it was just a photo of the sneaker in a gym. The statement was clear, though. This was a groundbreaking advance in terms of Air cushioning, and it required a groundbreaking method of sharing the message. 20 years later, Nike is still designing shoes with a very similar full-length visible Air Sole unit. Incredibly, the Ubiquitous Max has yet to retro though. Since other early full-length Air models have enjoyed a renaissance over the past few years, one can only hope that the Ubiquitous Max will be able to enjoy one as well.
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