Leonie Bulman's recent articles
Launch of Nike ‘Back to the Future’ shoe is a futuristic failure as frustrated footwear fans feel forgotten
Nike's "impossibly expensive" MAG sneakers show the problems inherent in launching an exclusive, luxury product through social media, if the brand is not itself a luxury brand. Although driven to release the MAGs by popular demand, Nike's failure to make the shoe available to the majority of its fans leads to a social media backlash.
Responding to an online petition, Nike recently launched the limited-edition Nike MAG, a much-coveted shoe originally featured in Back to the Future II and now released in limited quantities, to be auctioned off on eBay. All proceeds go to Parkinson’s charity The Michael J Fox Foundation, with all pairs currently selling for thousands of dollars. However, this price tag has led to a social media backlash from many of the fans who originally requested the shoes.
WaveMetrix social media monitoring reveals that over a third of responses to the campaign are from those who feel “cheated” because the MAGs are only available to “the rich and famous”. Consumer disappointment is prominent on Nike’s social media pages, revealing the importance of ensuring any campaign driven by consumer demand fulfils that demand.
This backlash also shows that while it may be suitable for luxury brands to maintain an aura of exclusivity on social media channels, more popular brands will struggle to pull off the same feat.
Responses to Nike auction split between praise for charity effort and criticism of “unfair” pricing:
- The most common reaction to the auction is concern over the price of the Nike MAGs: Consumers say they “don’t have enough money” for the “ridiculously high-priced” shoes and “wish” that Nike would release them “for the regular people”. Many think it is “unfair” and say they are “disappointed” in Nike
- This dilutes praise for the campaign’s “admirable” charity aspect: Discussion is almost entirely positive towards the charity aspect of the campaign, with consumers saying it is a “great idea” and shows that Nike are making the shoes expensive “for the right reason”. Ultimately, however, complaints about the unattainability of the shoes drive more discussion than praise for the campaign’s charity aspects
- The campaign also leads some to revise their opinion of the Nike brand itself: They say it is “wrong” for Nike, a brand that is “an obsession for millions”, to make one of their most-desired shoes “out of reach for the common man”, while others say the “slave labour” and “expensive marketing” involved in the release of the shoe “sullies” the attendant charity effort
Nike MAGs campaign leads some to see the brand in a different light than before:
- The high price of the shoes lead some to negatively associate Nike with an exclusive, aspirational image: This negative response comes as the campaign contradicts consumers’ image of Nike as a brand “for regular people”. Unlike Louis Vuitton or Gucci, the image of exclusivity does not sit well with the majority of Nike fans
- The campaign does drive positive association with the idea that Nike is a caring and cool brand, however: The charity aspect to the campaign leads many to say Nike are doing “a good thing”, or at least promoting the new shoe “for the right reason”. Others praise the “great design” of the Nike MAG, saying it “looks amazing”