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Nike Turns App Into Store With First SNKRS Pop-Up in Atlanta

Nike’s Super Bowl strategy includes a unique sneaker experience through the SNKRS app and a “Studio of Dreams” customization hub.

Jeff Eisenband

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Photo via Nike

Nike’s SNKRS app shines in the digital sneaker marketplace. So now it’s time to enter the real world.

On January 26, Nike opened Super Bowl Week in Atlanta with the first-ever SNKRS pop-up experience. The concept is simple for SNKRS users: Scroll through the app for the shoe you want, buy it, watch the shoebox get pulled through a transparent wall and take the kicks from a bottom compartment.

Then walk out the door with everything already digitally paid for.

Like the app version, the SNKRS pop-up — which will remain open through Air Max Day on March 26, long after the Patriots or Rams lift the Lombardi Trophy — will constantly be changing inventory. Pairs that may be sold out on Nike.com or the SNKRS app can show up at the SNKRS pop-up. New releases, throwback kicks, anything is fair game. Of course, Atlanta-specific sneakers are making appearances as well.

Mirroring the app, an in-store digital ticker also keeps shoppers updated like the “SportsCenter” bottom line. The LED screen tells customers which shoes are new releases, which are low in inventory, which are sold out, etcetera.

READ MORE: Super Bowl Presents Major Opportunity for Pizza Hut

In a way, the SNKRS app is a middle-ground between traditional retail and online shopping.

“I think there’s always still some nostalgia of going in and picking out shoes and touching them and seeing them,” said Josh Benedek, Nike North America media relations director. “We’ve taken all the heavy lifting out of that. All your preferences, all your credit card payments, everything like that is already set up on your phone. You can just come here and do what you like to do, which is the fun part, looking at shoes. It makes that purchasing much easier.”

For Super Bowl week, inventory leans toward “high-heat” shoes and more general models to cater to the masses of tourists. However, after New England and Los Angeles fans leave town, Atlantans should expect even more designs geared toward the city. For the hardcore, sneakerheads, SNKRS Pass is available to those in a 25-mile radius and shock drops keep customers surprised in-store.

Oh, and don’t worry, if you want to try specific sizes, a rep can help with that. And if you don’t have the SNKRS app, you can pay in-person. But that’s not the point of the pop-up.

While SNKRS is at 711 10th Street NW, across the street, at 760 10th Street NW, Nike has rented out the Westside Cultural Arts Center for Super Bowl week. Rebranded as the “Nike Studio of Dreams,” the appointment-only space features various opportunities of creation. A customization bar allows fans to design their own football jerseys, t-shirts and sweatshirts using a design palette featuring work from local Atlanta artists Dr. Dax, FRKO, SNAX Ink and Zipporah Peay.

Nike has also partnered with Cam Kirk Studios to give fans the opportunity to see the world through the Atlanta-based artist’s mind. Kirk, a 29-year-old Morehouse College grad, has photographed Young Jeezy, 2 Chains, T.I., Schoolboy Q, Gucci Mane and Metro Boomin, among others. Visitors at the Nike Studio of Dreams can experience the same theme.

“Our Studio of Dreams Space is kind of a take off JDI (“Just Do It”), which we just celebrated our 30th anniversary of,” Benedek said. “We are empowering the consumer to reach their crazy dreams and create content. This space here allows them to be able to access content that they couldn’t before.”

In the three days leading up to the Super Bowl, the Studio of Dreams will host three “Just Do It” talks with athletes and creators. Travis Kelce, Russell Wilson and Victor Cruz will be among those sitting on panels.

And then there’s the talk that should make people emotional.

READ MORE: Natty Light’s Super Bowl Moment

“We have Deshaun Watson and Warrick Dunn, and a lot of people don’t know that Warrick Dunn, through Habitat for Humanity, helped build Deshaun Watson a house,” Benedek said.

It’s true. About 12 years ago, Dunn — who played with the Falcons for six of his 12 NFL seasons — presented Watson and his family with a fully-refurbished home. Watson and Dunn’s conversation on creation will likely go beyond sneakers and apparel.

Rounding out Nike’s Super Bowl initiatives, the brand has partnered with YouTube to bring in a green screen at the Studio of Dreams. The makeshift set will be used to help Nike athletes sharpen their craft in generating custom content. Nike is also fusing with A Ma Maniere, a locally-based luxury apparel and footwear boutique, for the week, crafting crossover merchandise at A Ma Maniere’s Atlanta location and the Studio of Dreams.

The Super Bowl provides brands like Nike a unique opportunity to connect with customers in exclusive, in-person manner. For Super Bowl LIII, the setting is Atlanta. And for Nike, that means an emphasis on exclusive sneakers and custom apparel.

Jeff Eisenband is a broadcaster and writer based in New York City. He previously served as senior editor of ThePostGame and has contributed to the NBA 2K League, NBA Twitch channel, DraftKings, Tennis Hall of Fame, Golfweek, Big Ten Network, Cheddar and Heads Up Daily. A graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Jeff truly believes Northwestern will win national championships in football and basketball.

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NHL Keeps Running On Dunkin’ With New Deal

Dunkin’ became an NHL league-level sponsor in 2017, which was the company’s first-ever national sports league partnership.

Ian Thomas

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Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Dunkin’ has signed a multi-year extension of its deal with the NHL, continuing its position as the official coffee, donut and breakfast sandwich of the league in the U.S.

The deal, expected to be announced tonight prior to game five of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston, marks the twelfth major partner that the NHL has signed or renewed its deal with in recent months.

Dunkin’ became an NHL league-level sponsor in 2017, which was the company’s first-ever national sports league partnership. Over the course of the last two seasons, the partnership has seen Dunkin’ become one of the NHL’s most active corporate sponsors in terms of its presence at major NHL events, partnerships with local teams, marketing campaigns and other fan-facing efforts.

READ MORE: Following NBA’s Lead, NHL Taps Massive Chinese Market for Fans

NHL Group Vice President of Partnership Marketing Evin Dobson said that since becoming a sponsor, Dunkin’ has ranked at the top or in the top three of the league’s internal metrics regarding fan awareness or engagement of its partners.

Dunkin’ has been front and center this Stanley Cup Final as well, as its national advertising campaign starring Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak has been heavily featured during NBC’s television coverage of the playoffs. The campaign was created by BBDO Worldwide, which was named Dunkin’s new agency of record in April 2018.

“When you have an advertising campaign that even the broadcast talent is talking about on-air, you know you’re creating great fan engagement with what you’re doing,” Dobson said.

Tom Manchester, Dunkin’ U.S. senior vice president of integrated marketing, said much of the deal with the league will be similar to how its current deal is structured – it will continue to hold exclusive rights in those U.S. categories, it will activate around the partnership at NHL league events and it will have a presence across broadcast, digital and social media channels throughout the season, which includes a multi-million dollar partnership with NBC Sports for custom in-game features during games. Dunkin’ will also activate alongside the NHL’s esports tournament, the NHL Gaming World Championship, which will hold its final in Las Vegas later this month.

However, the new deal will see Dunkin’ adding two new local team partnerships in the deal, with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Vegas Golden Knights. Dunkin’ now has 15 NHL team-level deals.

READ MORE: NHL Turns to Corner Ice Placements to Grow On-Ice Ad Revenue

Dunkin’ will also launch a new activation around the league deal ahead of next season, Manchester said, declining to comment further as those plans have only just started.

“Over these last two years, the idea that coffee and espresso is a big part of the hockey world and hockey family’s lives has only been reinforced for us,” Manchester said.

Dunkin’s NHL deal also serves as “the centerpiece” of that outreach to hockey families, Manchester said.

In addition to its league-level NHL deal in 2017, Dunkin’ has also made additional investments into hockey, signing a deal with USA Hockey in 2016 as well as the NWHL in 2015, becoming the women’s league first corporate sponsor.

While both of those deals have since lapsed, Manchester said that on the NWHL front, the company is in talks with the league about renewing it. He noted that Dunkin’ views “women’s hockey as just as important as men’s.”

However, Dunkin’ is not planning on more broadly renewing its partnership with the U.S. governing body. Manchester said that while Dunkin’ had activated heavily around the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team and players like Meghan Duggan during the 2018 Winter Olympics, it had nothing in place with USA Hockey at the moment – although he said Dunkin’ could potentially do something around the team or its players heading into the next Olympic cycle in 2022.

Both Dobson and Manchester declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal, other to say the multi-year deal’s investment level is in line with the previous deal. Fenway Sports Management, who is Dunkin’s sports marketing agency of record, negotiated the deal on behalf of the company.

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Concacaf Unveils First-Ever Women’s Soccer Plan

In August, Concacaf appointed its first-ever head of women’s football – former Canadian women’s national team player Karina LeBlanc.

Ian Thomas

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Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Concacaf has rolled out its first-ever strategic plan to grow and develop the game of women’s soccer.

In August, the confederation appointed its first-ever head of women’s football – former Canadian women’s national team player Karina LeBlanc.

LeBlanc, who presented the plan in Paris this week to all confederation’s 41 members that includes all of the soccer federations across North and Central America and the Caribbean, said that even with two of the top five ranked women’s soccer teams globally coming from this region in the U.S. and Canadian national teams, there is still an opportunity to do even better.

“The mission we’ve set out on is to improve the lives of women and girls throughout our region through the sport,” LeBlanc said. “We need to change perceptions, grow participation and build a sustainable foundation so that we can do just that.”

Concacaf has designed its strategy to grow the sport of women’s soccer around three main pillars – communicating the importance of women’s soccer and advocating for key issues affecting women, development of the sport and creating pathways to develop and empower players both on and off the field, and through commercial means that will build a self-sustainable growth model for the sport.

LeBlanc said Concacaf’s vision for growing the game somewhat mirrors FIFA’s, who launched its own first-ever global strategy for women’s soccer in October. FIFA is holding a two-day women’s soccer summit in Paris, featuring executives and federation officials from across the globe aiming to “make the most of this new era of women’s football,” which FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in his opening remarks at the summit on Wednesday morning.

Other goals for 2019 set by Concacaf include leveraging the hopeful success of the region’s national teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, creating a women’s coaching mentorship program and develop a commercial strategy around the confederation’s women’s soccer brand, which is called Concacaf W.

“We believe we can hit some of these targets very quickly, but it was important to create something like this plan so that everyone is on the same page,” LeBlanc said. “We all agree it is critical that we create growth and opportunity for women in the sport.”

LeBlanc said some of the long term goals include creating new women’s soccer competitions across the region, assisting in the creation of women’s soccer-specific digital and social channels for all the federations to help inspire fans, and encouraging the launch of more women’s clubs across the region.

READ MORE: Budweiser Signs On as Presenting Partner of Women’s International Champions Cup

“From our standpoint, we are looking at ways to influence clubs to take a leap of faith and if they already have a men’s team, to also have a women’s team,” LeBlanc said. “Our goal is to change the mindset that women’s football is just a cause.

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MLSPA and REP Worldwide Teaming Up to Promote MLS Players

The Major League Soccer Players Association has taken back control of the MLS players’ group licensing rights from the league, signing a new agreement with REP Worldwide to serve as the exclusive partner and strategic advisor for those rights.

Ian Thomas

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Photo Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer Players Association has taken back control of the MLS players’ group licensing rights from the league, according to industry sources, signing a new agreement with REP Worldwide to serve as the exclusive partner and strategic advisor for those rights.

The PA had reclaimed those group licensing rights in the league’s first CBA in 2004, but had since licensed them back directly to the league. In the past, MLS has marketed the rights for both the league and the PA, with proceeds of licensing deals split on a percentage basis that varied by category. Now – the PA will take a more direct management in the marketing and administration of those rights, with REP Worldwide as its exclusive partner and advisor.

REP Worldwide – an acronym for Representing Every Player – was launched in 2017 as a first-of-its-kind group licensing representation business offering licensing and brand management services to athlete-driven sports properties. The NFLPA is the majority shareholder of the company, working in collaboration with its founding partners the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA).

This new partnership will see REP Worldwide structure and manage MLSPA licensing partnerships on behalf of the MLS player pool across categories that include digital, apparel, experiential and hard goods, which typically includes things like toys and sports equipment. those MLS group licensing rights cover instances where four or more players appear on a single product or within a brand or product line. That can include the usage of their names, numbers and likenesses, but not team names or logos – rights held by the league.

READ MORE: Budweiser Signs On as Presenting Partner of Women’s International Champions Cup

The aim for the MLSPA is that this new arrangement will not only open new revenue for the MLS player pool, but also serve as a brand builder for all of the players, collectively and individually.

All of the other player associations in the major North American professional sports have control over their group licensing rights, with the NBPA being the last to do so in 2017.

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