$10,000 Shoes as a Product of Strategic Branding

The future has become now, as the Nike Mag was released this past Friday, September 8th. The Nike Mag is a self-lacing shoe which made its first appearance in the 1989 film Back to the Future 2, and is all the hype here in 2011. It’s also a great opportunity to see some of the many uses of trademarks in action.

Trademark as an Indicator of Source and Quality. People around the world would agree that Nike makes a quality shoe, and having Nike back this promotional shoe lends a great deal to the selling power of this promotion. A master of brand collaboration as seen in their “Dunk” collection, amongst others , Nike also knows how to market cool, certainly helpful to this promotion of the self-lacing shoe.

Trademark as an Indicator of Sponsorship. Back to the Future 2  grossed $332 million in the box office, and another $72 million in rentals in the United States alone. The reach of this movie was widespread, and it is an iconic film series of the late 80’s and early 90’s conjuring fond memories in the minds of consumers who were children and young adults during that time. By associated the Back to the Future mark with the Nike Mag, scores of potential purchasers have been included in the reach of Nike Mag; consumers who may otherwise have no interest in purchasing a hip Nike limited release shoe.

Trademark as an Indicator of Positive Public Image. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is a key player in the release of the Nike Mag, with proceeds of Nike Mag sales contributed to the foundation. Michael J. Fox himself endorses the shoe on behalf of the foundation in a video, making a pitch for the foundation’s mission to cure Parkinson’s disease.

Trademark as an Indicator of Distribution. All 1500 pairs of Nike Mag are being exclusively sold on Ebay, with 100 pairs going up for auction every day for 15 days. Ebay is a strategic medium for distributing these shoes, with its auction-style purchasing serving to maximize profits for this limited release shoe in a relatively short amount of time.

The cumulative effect of the collaboration of 4 commercially significant identities is worth mentioning. As many of my peers expressed, I can’t say I’m overjoyed over the design of the shoe. However, I think there’s something to be said about the power of brand identity in driving consumer behaviour when people are paying $10,000.00 for a shoe that, isn’t necessarily the most aesthetic product out there.

Businesses can achieve the type of hype and consumer awareness exemplified here by the Nike Mag release through using their trademarks in multiple capacities, but only after consumers have a clear message of what the trademark and brand communicate.  Creating a solid company identity over time through strategic registration and enforcement of trademarks lets a company clearly communicate to the consumers it wishes to reach. If another business is using your mark, you may want to think twice about what the association between that other business and your mark will communicate to the market. Having your brand associated with too many ideas or third-party brands dilutes your trademark’s value and strength. It pays to be wary of the use of your mark.

It’s great to see the self-lacing shoes become a reality, but what I think we all really want is the hover board…

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