In blogging about brands I tend to pull regularly from a batch of default “good” brands— Apple, Ikea, Nike, as well as default “bad” ones— US Air, US Air, US Air (they deserve all three mentions). However this week one of the “good” brands, Nike, is in an ambiguous middle ground—enter the Marty McFly “back to the future” MAG shoe.
I say ambiguous middle ground because the shoe itself is only a limited run shoe for charity and when it comes to promoting a good cause I would feel a bit soiled scrutinizing such a move too heavily—but it just doesn’t quite fit.
The shoe originally was seen in 1989 in “Back to the Future II” and to be fair the “Just Do It” campaign began before that in 1988, but the Nike brand since that time has been so steadily and consistently reinforced that the “Just Do It” of Nike today doesn’t allow for the MAG shoe pairing like it once did.
My initial reaction to the shoe was one of interest; it seemed fun, nostalgic, and almost humorous. When I first searched online for the shoe and was directed to the Nike.com this blog was created—It just looked so out of place. On the Nike homepage there was an athletic person in slim fit exercise clothing, a SHOXTURBO+12 sneaker, and a GPS sportwatch… and then a Delorian with a pair of light-up shoes sitting on it?
When I think of what “Just Do It” represents it is not fun, nostalgic and humorous, it is serious, in your face and a bit cocky. I would wager that the bidding currently underway for the 150 pairs of shoes is primarily being done by fans of “Back to the future” rather than of “Nike”. In fact, when I first heard the shoe was being produced I knew the shoe precisely, but until my recent search for them led me to Nike, I did not know they were originally Nike branded.
I do not discount Nike for the decision; the shoe was a Nike shoe originally, so for a charity like this, selling this, it needed to be through Nike if at all. The shoe itself brings light to a good cause, as well as attention and positive press to Nike as a company, but to their brand of “Just Do It” has lost some of its intensity because of it. This lost intensity is not something that is detrimental or even lost entirely, but one of the most important aspects of a brand is consistency and the MAG shoe cost Nike a sliver of theirs.