Queue up Will Smith’s ‘Miami’. “All night, on the beach until the break of dawn…” Vic Oladipo has been recovering and rehabilitating in Miami since rupturing his quad tendon back in January. During the postseason, he did a few IG Stories takeovers to lead #PacersNation in supporting their squad. Since then, VO has been working on his health and getting back into the game in Miami and has dabbled in the YouTube world with his series The VO Show. With warmer days and an abundance of sunshine ahead, it’s time to break out something vibrant from Jordan brand. Check out some of Vic’s wardrobe staples from the Jordan Summer Collection.
In 1984, a young Michael Jordan began his legendary career in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. I was two years old at the time, which means I don’t remember much from Michael’s rookie season. In fact, it’s safe to say I don’t truly remember much about Jordan until the early ‘90s. That doesn’t mean Jordan didn’t heavily influence me and basically every other basketball-loving kid in America during that time, though. Whether we were aware of what we were watching or not, we were experiencing history – both on the court and in all the ads that featured the GOAT.
Marketing and branding have changed dramatically since Jordan’s first sneaker came out. But, one fact still remains true: a strong ad campaign can make or break an Air Jordan model. Last month, Jordan Brand held an interactive event in LA to introduce the latest model – the Air Jordan XXXIII. All of social media’s most important influencers were there to snap pictures and try out the newest and best model. It reminded me of how times have changed for marketing. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was fairly simple formula: put the new Air Jordan on MJ’s feet, and have him shoot a few commercials. Today, the brand utilizes all types of avenues to promote the newest model. I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the most memorable Jordan ad campaigns; the campaigns that made a great sneaker even greater.
In 1984, Michael Jordan and Nike couldn’t have asked for a better storyline. They had their new Air Jordan sneaker, along with a flashy new “Wings” logo, in a daring new black/red colorway. Jordan wore a black/red Air Ship model in the preseason, which commissioner David Stern said was a no-no because it didn’t match the uniforms and other players’ sneakers. This caused Nike to have to re-think their color scheme for Jordan’s first AJ models, but it was also a brilliant twist for their marketing campaign. The result was the “Banned” commercial, and the most successful Air Jordan sneaker ever.
It’s pretty incredible when you look back – Spike Lee was showcased alongside Michael Jordan in ads from 1988 through 1991. Played by his alter ego Mars Blackmon, the fictional character from the hit film She’s Gotta Have It, Lee plays the nerdy, loud-mouthed, sneaker-obsessed sidekick to Jordan for four years of TV commercials and print ads. The Wieden & Kennedy ads were obviously a huge hit, and sparked catch phrases like, “It’s be the shoes,” and one of Jordan’s nicknames, “Money.”
Continuing with the comedic theme, Jordan moved on from Blackmon to a new sidekick in 1992 – this time with Bugs Bunny. Mixing cartoons and real life actors was all the rage back then (remember Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). The Air Jordan 8 and 9 ads were also a huge hit, and may have continued if Jordan didn’t retire from the game after the ’92 season and his third straight championship. That certainly put a wrench in Nike’s plans.
The First Retirement
Nike made the most of Jordan’s transition from world basketball phenomenon to Division AA Minor League baseball player, featuring a series of ads. All three were quite different, as famous actor Steve Martin questioned whether Michael Jordan was still playing competitive basketball in disguise for one spot. In another, Jordan and Charles Barkley dispute their signature sneakers. And in a third, Spike Lee returns to cheer on a struggling MJ while he attempts to play baseball. All three ads were memorable, and helped salvage the AJ9 after most of the basketball world was depressed over Jordan’s retirement.
At the time the Air Jordan 11 was being designed, Nike wasn’t sure if Jordan would ever return to the game of basketball. That’s why Jordan branded the sneakers with the tagline, “Inspired by the greatest player of all time.” Of course, Nike was thrilled when MJ made his return to the Bulls in ’95, and didn’t seem to push back too much when he wanted to wear the Air Jordan 11 a bit early in the playoffs against the Magic. The commercial that followed was a determined MJ dunking on a 100-foot rim. It was a decent commercial, and really Nike could have just played a 30-second clip of the shoe because the sneaker itself was so beautiful.
“Slow Motion,” “Failure,” “Disrespect”
The Air Jordan 12 had perhaps some of the most thoughtful and inspiring commercials, and also some of the most serious. Obviously, Jordan had matured during his time off and return to the game, and the commercials reflected that. One ad captured MJ playing the game in slow motion against the LA Lakers rocking the fresh Air Jordan 12s. Another showed MJ walking into the arena while talking about all the times he’s failed as a player. And the third featured MJ attempting to dunk from the free throw line again –10 years after he did it the first time.
Things got a little silly again for the Air Jordan 13, as the theme was Michael Jordan as CEO Jordan. In one spot, Jordan is seen in his office inspecting each AJ13 by hand (and also creasing each one, to the chagrin of sneakerheads today). It was Nike’s way of showing that MJ was the boss. He basically was, as Jordan Brand was differentiating itself from Nike and building a team of athletes appropriately named “Team Jordan.”
Passing of the Torch
With Mary J Blige singing “Overjoyed” in the background, and Michael Jordan well into his second retirement, we were introduced to the team that was called to carry on Jordan’s legacy. Athletes like Derek Jeter, Randy Moss, Eddie Jones, Ray Allen, Roy Jones, Jr. were all featured. The Air Jordan 15 was also shown briefly, and then Jordan is seen strolling through a field in casual attire at the end. Jordan was now the mentor, and these athletes were his protégés.
The theme of Jordan as the mentor and ambassador for the game continued with the Air Jordan 16 ads, with Mos Def’s “Umi Says” as the theme song. Along with professional athletes, Jordan is seen interacting with normal folks as well, even to the point of joining a pickup game in a local gym. The tagline for the campaign was strong – “Much Respect.” It is still a revered slogan, and said amongst sneakerheads to this day.
Hip Hop Vibes
For the Air Jordan 17 in 2002, the Brand looked to cater to the younger hip hop generation with classic tracks from Gangstarr featured in three shorts starring Ray Allen, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson. Michael Jordan was out of retirement and back in the League for a third time, but was not featured in any of these ads. There was a separate, simpler ad featuring just Jordan dribbling a basketball which was meant to sound like a heartbeat.
What is Love?
For the Air Jordan 18, MJ would be prominently featured again, which made sense because it was the last time he would play professional basketball. The theme of the ads was “Love Is,” and the commercials flashed back to highlight all of Jordan’s accomplishments in 30 seconds. It captured Jordan’s pure passion for the game of basketball, and his desire to play every game as if it was his last.
Let Your Game Speak
With MJ finally officially retired, how would the Brand move forward and stay relevant in the sneaker world? The Air Jordan 21 campaign proved that JB could still inspire even with Jordan out of the League for good. With dramatic piano music playing in the background, kids attempt to try out every move that made Jordan the GOAT, with Jordan looking on proudly at the end of the cut.
Maybe It’s My Fault
The Air Jordan 23 was obviously special since it was MJ’s number. The commercial was special as well, with Jordan reflecting on how maybe it was his fault that he ruined the game by being so good. At the end, the camera cuts to Jordan addressing a gym full of teenagers and telling them not to make excuses.
In 2009, Jordan Brand transitioned to naming Air Jordans by year instead of chronological number. The ads and commercials continued, but there was also a shift occurring in the way consumers received information. TV services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime were taking off, which meant viewers could skip commercials for the most part. Also, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter became the primary methods for people to discover and learn about sneakers.
As these trends became mainstream, Nike and Jordan Brand shifted in the way they market their sneakers. Commercials are still important, but not as critical as they used to be. With that being the case, it’s clear that the old commercials leading up to the Air Jordan 23 were the most memorable and influential. The next 15 to 20 years will reveal which marketing strategies worked best for Jordan in this current social media-driven age.
Every Finish Line store opening has a special vibe. Just last week, we opened our newest location in the Mile High City. Product and technology took center stage and shoppers customized their experience with the top sport brands in the sneaker game. No. 5 pick in NFL Draft, Bradley Chubb also stopped by Finish Line Park Meadows and kept things lit for our opening weekend. #GoBroncos
Finish Line continues to support the hottest content on our digital touch screens and shoe-eye-view stations, while brands like Nike, adidas and Jason Markk come through with their own activations to support our new store design.
The birth of the Air Jordan 1 back in 1985 was a pivotal moment for the Swoosh. There’s no doubt that the Air Jordan 1 has transcended its court purpose. In the past few decades, the AJ1 has inspired a plethora of different versions, but even though styles and trends shift, this has always been a sneakerhead staple.
Back in January, Nike debuted The 1 Reimagined collection focused on the AJ1 and AF1. Out of 1,000 designers, there were 14 women chosen to spearhead this project and they were only given two weeks. These 14 women behind the project had a very particular skill set to not only complete the project, but to also blow it out of the water. The goal was to establish new versions of both of the icons and this was when the Rebel XX was created.
The Rebel XX is a progressive sneaker to say the least. The zipper on the medial side is the point of entry while the asymmetrical lacing that wraps across the upper is more of a bold statement for style. The two colorways that drop on 5/19 are must haves as they’re they OG Chicago and Top 3 colorway. The iconic Chicago colorway is the basic essence of AJ1 history with Chicago Red, Black, and White. The Top 3 colorway is a fusion of 3 infamous colorways of the AJ1. It’s got DNA from the ‘Royal’, ‘Chicago’, and ‘Banned’ colorways.
These are the ultimate mashup of heritage, style, and function. Get them in-store or online at Finishline.com on Saturday, May 19th.
‘Tis the season for turn ups and gift giving. ???? With all the dope releases surrounding the holiday season, it can be hard to narrow down the best of the best items for your gift list or even your own personal wish list. ???? Don’t trip because we’ve got you covered. Check out some of our Top Men’s Gifts.
Fresher than the first snow of the season. The UltraBoost 4.0 has arrived right on time for the holidays. The first to come is the one of the fan favorite colorways from the UltraBoost 1.0 with the all white upper and black Continental rubber outsole. No better way to get #boosted than with these.
‘Be Like Mike’ becomes more than a mantra with the celebration of the Jordan Gatorade Collection. It has been 26 years since that partnership started but the influence still lives on. Gear up in Gatorade to fuel your winter style.
Elite athletes know how important footwork is in order to perform at peak levels, and those gracing the hardwood know footwork develops speed, control, and balance. The newest performance model from Jordan Brand, the Super.Fly 2017, encompasses everything dynamic players need to thrive on the court. This model features Nike React, to give players slashing to the basket and making quick cuts maximum comfort and responsiveness. This model was first unveiled during the 2017 NBA Playoffs via Blake Griffin, who has sported the model throughout its lineage, and like many other recent footwear designs, this model takes design cues from past models like the Air Jordan IV and Air Jordan XI.
Because no two players move exactly that same on the court, the design team at Jordan Brand have employed pressure maps from the Nike Sport Research Lab to locate critical pressure points to develop the Super.Fly 2017’s traction pattern. No matter what move you’re trying to make on the court, the Jordan Super.Fly will give you all you need to leave your defender and get to the basket. With comfort and response at the forefront in sneakers, this model features a form-fiting, one-piece upper giving wearers a natural fit to help them channel their explosiveness. Lookout for the Jordan Super.Fly 2017 to release in black and white, black and infrared, and sail and infrared available August 3rd.
The NBA is finally back which means the King is back. We saw the NBA season open up with what’s has been one of the best rivalries in recent years, the Chicago Bulls versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. The game was exactly what NBA fans were hoping for, a grudge match between two of the best players in the game, and we were not disappointed. With the kickoff of the NBA season that brings us new colorways of signature kicks for big name athletes and even the special custom colorways for those guys who may not have a signature sneaker.
Last night we finally got to see LeBron take to the hardwood in his new signature sneaker, the Nike LeBron 13. We first saw him wear these earlier this summer when rumors started flying around, questioning if this was his next signature sneaker basketball lovers didn’t know what to think. The last couple of years we have seen Nike debut some new technology in his signature kicks and this year is no different. With its new construction of the upper and placement of Zoom Technology on the sole, King James has come out saying he loves it. It doesn’t get any better than a true red color scheme that makes your sneakers pop; whether you’re on the court or in the streets. Make sure you get your little one a pair too, since these come in kids’ sizes too and basketball season is right around the corner. Make sure you pick up the Nike LeBron 13 “On Court” on October 30th at Finishline.com.