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Top 10 Innovative Brands 2017: #5 Nike

The sportswear giant continues to serve up cutting-edge events for brand loyalists.

By Michele Laufik June 14, 2017, 6:30 AM EDT

An installation of LunarEpic Flyknit sneakers was on display at the Nike Innovation Summit in New York in March 2016.

Photo: Daniel Salemi

Nike remains at the top of its game when it comes to event marketing, thanks to innovative concepts at high-profile events such as the N.B.A. All-Star Game weekend and the inaugural ComplexCon.

“Nike looks to energize cities or moments with unique experiences, products, and pop-up launches. We celebrate the perfect clash of sport, creativity, style, and design, providing consumers and guests with pinnacle innovative experiences,” says Matthew Kneller, Nike’s North America communications director.

Nike hit the road this spring with a weeklong series of “Sneakeasy” events—limited-invite consumer pop-ups that featured Nike-inspired artwork and interactive experiences—in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Toronto, all leading up to the fourth annual Air Max Day on March 26. The pop-ups featured curated art exhibits, surprise music performances, evening events hosted by local influencers, interactive Air Max genealogy displays, and the chance to try out and purchase the brand’s newest limited-edition designs. While all of the pop-ups celebrated the Air Max sneaker, each offered some local flavor, such as the Toronto location, which featured interactive displays by six local artists that were inspired by the shoe.

During the N.B.A. All-Star Game weekend in New Orleans in February, Nike Basketball teamed up with local artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums to create an interactive basketball-theme space that included artwork with a heavy influence from the community and homegrown groups, along with a nod to the history of basketball greats. It brought to life the sportswear brand’s new “Equality” campaign, which focuses on social unity. As part of the initiative, Nike pledged $5 million to organizations that advance equality in the United States.

At the inaugural ComplexCon, the part-festival, part-convention in Long Beach, California, Nike celebrated the Air Force 1 shoe with its Culture of Force Court. The space, designed by graphic artist Brian Roettinger, included the “Grail Wall” with 100 Holy Grail Air Force 1s, which were shoppable through retail store Stadium Goods, and a half-court basketball court. Big names in hip-hop, streetwear, and sports stopped by to greet guests and shoot some hoops.

In March 2016, Nike presented emerging technologies including power-lacing sneakers at its Nike Innovation Summit. Sneakerheads, media, and athletes in New York heard from speakers such as Nike C.E.O. Mark Parker and comedian Kevin Hart, who spoke about his Hustle Harts campaign. Attendees were then able to test products still in development.

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