All Manufacturers Are Boundless | Branding Technique Insider
In Phil Knight’s book “Shoe Dog”, Nike founder focuses on the deals. Factory deal, sponsorship deal, celebrity deal. It’s about connecting superstars with super chic. He never talks about the cultural relevance of Nike ads or the “just do it” line taken from a Clint Eastwood movie.
What Knight doesn’t seem to understand (or brilliantly avoid) is that while Nike makes shoes, Nike consumers made the brand. And this brand of Nike is limitless, way outside the bell curve of rubber soles, fabric science, cushioned layers, swatches of color, and shoe shine.
It’s more “Nike” than a shoe.
In April, the Nike company announced that they were suing MSCHF for modifying their product by adding a drop of human blood. Some confused people believe that Nike designed the shoes in honor of the Dark Lord.
In fact, the unauthorized limited edition “Satan Shoes” was designed in collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X, who released a new song this week. “Satan Shoes” are clearly part of a public relations stunt to promote the release of Lil Nas X’s latest single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”.
Lil Nas X has a genius for browsing cultural memes. You may remember his audiovisual remix of “Games Of Thrones” and “Old Town Road” which got countless views on YouTube.
Reselling shoes (or trademarks) is not illegal. Similar to NFTs, Satan Shoes promote the culture of value. The shoes themselves – a Nike sneaker adorned with a pentagram and a drop of blood – are only worth $ 1,018 to Nike insiders. More phantasm than shoes. But their real value is word of mouth.
In a legal response filed this week, MSCHF reported, “MSCHF says all but one pair of shoes, a 666-pair collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X, have already been shipped.”
Paradox can make art. Scarcity in a world of bling. Sports shoes should never be worn on the pitch. It’s like making the Mona Lisa out of M & Ms. A banana canal on the wall of Art Basel.
The blood of every brand is their meaning and here the meaning is stacked like a Napoleonic cream cake. Lil Nas X has taken over the cultural leadership with his latest remix of cultural tropes: Satan Shoes x Lil Nas X x MSCHF x “Montero (call me by your name)” x Nike x Vampires x 666 x Superhype.
(“Montero (call me by your name)” currently has over 181 million views.)
Ultimately, MSCHF’s renamed shoes are one of Nike’s best deals: a PR stunt that’s worth countless views. It should be viewed with a drop of calamity. The gods of hype have to giggle.
Contribution to the Branding Strategy Insider by: Patrick Hanlon, author of Primal Branding
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