Glomming on to dubious holidays is by no means a new marketing move for brands — especially those in the food industry — but creating their own and omitting any non-commercial pretense is a relatively fresh move, and one that seems primed for growth in the fashion industry.
Since launching in 2014, Nike’s Air Max Day has expanded to outsize proportions for a branded holiday, with countless activations taking place across the U.S. and Canada during the weeks leading up to and on the day of the event. The sneaker brand has created a blueprint for other fashion brands to follow, though only one has taken the bait so far: J.Crew will celebrate its first National Stripes Day on March 31 to celebrate — you guessed it — all manner of its brand-created stripes.
This year’s Air Max Day, which took place on Sunday, also happened to mark the 30th anniversary of the iconic Air technology used in the Air Max shoe, so Nike pulled out all the stops.
Micro-influencer Anna Bediones promoted #AirMaxDay on her Instagram
Leading up to the holiday, Nike teased the launch of 10 new Air Max editions, including the Air Max 1 Master and the atmos x Air Max 1; sent out a customized Air Max bus, complete with art installations and branded vending machines, to roam the streets of Toronto for two weeks; hand-selected 12 creatives, including Sean Wotherspoon and Venus X, to design their own Air Max shoes, allowing customers to vote one into future widespread release; and launched four “Sneakeasy” pop-up shops in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, which allowed users to purchase the latest Nike products.
But it was arguably the event’s social promotion — both by the brand and its fans — that pulled the most weight.
“Social networks allow virtual communities to exist and thrive around the products being celebrated,” said Jason Goldberg, the senior vice president of content and commerce at SapientRazorfish. “Air Max Day couldn’t exist as an event that exclusively lived in Nike stores and [on traditional] advertising platforms. By adding fan art, gamification and scarcity targeted at an [online] community that already existed, Nike had the ingredients for a winning promotion.”
Social data collected by Brandwatch backs this up.
Within the past week, Nike has been mentioned more than 523,000 times on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — compared to 512,000 times the week prior — with the hashtag #AirMaxDay being used about 30,000 times. Celebrity support by the likes of Kevin Hart and the athlete Neymar Jr. surely helped, as did that of publications like HypeBae and Complex’s Sole Collector.
Unsurprisingly, mentions of #AirMaxDay peaked at over 2,100 mentions in one hour yesterday, the day of the event.
This resulted in a notable weekend spike — a period when social conversation generally sags — especially on Sunday, which is usually the slowest day, according to Brandwatch. To wit, yesterday saw over 95,000 mentions, while last Sunday, March 19 saw only 65,000.
What’s more, the overall sentiment of Nike’s social mentions during this period was an impressive 85.6 percent positive, while the #AirMaxDay hashtag was even more so, at 97.8 percent. Many of the so-called “negative” mentions within the discussion were really just people expressing their frustration over not wearing Air Maxes on Air Max Day.
Goldberg adds that another sign of success was Nike competitor Adidas launching counter-programming of sorts: It released a number of hot Ultra Boost products earlier than expected this weekend, in an effort to steal some of the Air Max hype. It’s a move not unlike retailers offering promotions on Amazon Prime Day, he said.
Representatives for J.Crew could not be reached for comment, but it will be interesting to see how their National Stripes Day compares. As of today, the brand has kept its promotion to the online realm, which may not be a problem if Nike’s social numbers are anything to go off.
Goldberg, for his part, thinks there are more of these pseudo-holidays on the horizon for brands. “In the same way that digital disruption fragmented the television audience and spread viewers amongst a much [wider] set of networks, we’re likely going to see [it] enable a broader set of commercial holidays that fragment consumer holidays amongst a larger set of interests,” he said.