Thanks to a cartoon bunny and Michael Jordan, Nike has just had its biggest sneaker release for itself.
Featuring the basketball legend alongside Looney Tunes characters seen celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1996 comedy, the shoemaker’s Jordan brand began selling the Space Jam XI in December. The advertisement became very popular and shoppers went bonkers.
“The Space Jam XI was the largest and most successful shoe launch in the history of Nike,” Trevor Edwards, president of Nike, said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. He didn’t disclose sales numbers.
The Air Jordan XI had made its debut in the original Space Jam movie and the most recent sneaker is a rerelease of that earlier version.
With translucent blue outsoles and a white colour on the sides, the new shoe has a black mesh top with patent leather and it is priced at $220. And stitched on the back is the number 45 (not Jordan’s original 23—he came out of retirement wearing 45) and the Jumpman logo. It also comes in a special edition box.
As the shares of the company drastically fell amid investor concerns that Nike is losing market share to hard-charging competitors Adidas AG and Under Armour Inc., the Space Jam shoe was a bright spot in Nike Inc.’s otherwise gloomy last quarter.
Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike is riding that wave as retro styles such as the Space Jam kicks are having a fashion moment. Becoming hit in the market are Nike Air Zoom Generation and the Adidas Stan Smith which are throwback rollouts for such shoes. The fastest growing category in footwear last year was the heritage styles.
Decades after its initial release, Space Jam has become a cult classic. A banner movie for nostalgic Gen Xers is the tale of the zany toons from Warner Bros. Teamin up with a basketball star to thwart the evil plans of aliens from Moron Mountain. The original Space Jam website remains online, retaining its old school graphics from a bygone internet era and a video of the theme song has more than 26 million views on YouTube.
Seen as worth the lofty price tag is the participation of celebrities and athlete for Nike. Simeon Siegel, an analyst at Instinet said that compared to regular apparel companies because endorsements can have a big impact on sales, performance athletic wear companies spend much more on marketing, as a percentage of sales.
Reportedly worth more than $1 billion, in 2015, four-time NBA MVP LeBron James signed a lifetime deal with Nike. Nike is able to churn out top-selling hits, such as Kyrie Irving’s Kyrie 3 and Kevin Durant’s KD9 due to its ability and willingness to pay for famous names.
“They’ve decided to spend this massive amount of money because endorsements create the value around these launches,” said Siegel. “Without the endorsement, these sneakers are just another sneaker.”
(Adapted from Bloomberg)