charging, innovating, making, marketing, praising, promoting, selling

Owning the Impossible: Winners all round as Nike brings The MAG Back From The Future

Nike_Mag_shoetwenty two years in the waiting, The MAG is Back From The Future

it took about thirty seconds.  thirty seconds from receiving this IM from Alex S… to fall utterly in love.

“i could see you in those”

the link was to this:

“Back To The Future Nike Air Mags Are Real And Glorious” was Gizmodo’s Geek Out’s take on today’s news.  I couldn’t agree more

the world was awake, and had been alerted to the existence of The MAG, brought Back From The Future by Nike.  as a post on Nike’s site explains:

“The NIKE MAG is no longer the “greatest shoe never made.” The mythical shoe that originally captured the imagination of audiences in Back to the Future II is being released – and they’re here to help create a future without Parkinson’s disease … 1,500 pairs of the 2011 NIKE MAG will be auctioned on eBay with all net proceeds going directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Each day for the duration of the ten-day auction, one hundred and fifty pairs of the 2011 NIKE MAG shoes will be made available …”

as sneaks go it’s a stunning piece of work and – with the exception of power laces – is as fine a replica of Marty’s originals that you’ll find:

then and now – Marty’s original 2015 sneaks and the ones revealed today

it arrived with this beautiful teaser clip:

a clip which isn’t alone … a gamut of content and AV collateral has been released to support the arrival of the 1,500 pairs, and not a corner has been cut – Doc Brown himself is on board:

the distribution model is designed to extract maximum value from the shoes.  by selling on Ebay, Nike ensure that – with such a strictly limited supply (there’s one pair for every 4.5 million people on the planet) – it doesn’t just find those individuals with the money to invest in these puppies, but engages those individuals in what is sure to be a fierce bidding war, with each other, to own their slice of the impossible.

everyone wins.

those of us who have been waiting since 1989 for “the greatest shoe never made” to arrive finally get to see it.  a lucky few will even get to own it.  the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research will get a shedload of money to fight Parkinson’s (even if the average selling price is a conservative $5,000, the MAGs will generate over $7.5m in revenue).

Ebay get a burst of activity on their platform, part of which will no doubt fulfill the hugely valuable role of getting inactive registered users to engage with the site.  and as for Nike … money can’t buy publicity, the adoration of sneaker fans everywhere, and a global bidding war to get a hold of their product…

winners all round – The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Ebay and Nike

as marketing efforts go, its textbook best practice:

  • innovate and invest in creating products that have currency and will be in high demand
  • strictly limit supply
  • fewer bigger better partnerships to deliver and deploy the initiative
  • invest in credibility (Christopher Lloyd is in the ad for goodness sake)
  • sacrifice profits in favour of positive PR and goodwill
  • don’t buy media when you can earn it
  • invest in sharable high quality content
  • rigorously control timing to maximise interest and dominate news and conversation
  • product out, not advertising in

the awesomeness of these shoes is outdone only by the awesomeness of the marketing machine that has announced them to the world.  what happens over the next ten days remains to be seen, but for now its all eyes on Ebay – where, only 4 1/2 hours into day one’s auction, bids for every pair of size 9s are sitting at between $3,500 and $4,000.



good luck.


brand extending, charging, creating, selling

Demanding Supply: What the Sydney Festival can learn from adidas and Star Wars

Becks_late_at_Sydney_Festival the Becks Festival Bar @ The Barracks [source]

so last night I spend a brilliant evening jumping around to Big Black Voodoo Daddy & Black Joe lewis and the Honeybears at the Becks Festival bar (above).  its all part of the Sydney Festival, which opened on Saturday with Al Green performing to about 200,000 people in the Domain.

but here's the thing – I had to buy my and Jonathan's (hi Jonathan @jonnyp) way into Big Black Voodoo Daddy et al, because all the tickets had been and gone months ago when they were first released.  it seems to me that there for a city the size of Sydney the festival just doesn't seem BIG enough…  there needs to be more stuff, more to do, because the demand is currently far outstripping supply.  …and thats the thing about supply and demand – the more there is of something, the more we want of it:

Supply-demand-right-shift-supply.svg Induced demand: When supply shifts from S1 to S2, the price drops from P1 to P2, and quantity consumed increases from Q1 to Q2 [source: Wikipedianess]

I love the counter-intuitiveness of this.  the more you create of something the more people want it.  the problem however is that at the same time the value of the commodity goes down – but only if the commodity in question is homogeneous.

this is the great opportunity for something like the Sydney Festival – you don't make it bigger by making more of the same; in order to protect value you need to produce more of the different.  more venues, more spaces and places, more 'differentiated scale'.  in this the festival can learn much – and a big thanks to a heads up from @Fraser201 on this – from adidas and Star Wars…  yeah, I know…

in December of last year adidas announced the creation of an originals range inspired by the Star Wars universe, its been trending up ever since:

there's three very smart things about this, the second two of which relate to really brilliant understanding of induced supply.  the first thing to say is that in no way shape or form will adidas ever have to spend a penny in broadcast advertising of this range: its existence will be all the marketing collateral they need.  but thats not whats really interesting about what adidas are doing.

I had a quick conversation with the lovely Chrissie at the Sydney Originals store this morning, who informed me that the range isn't all being released at once, rather its being phased over three months.  thats the first smart way of increasing supply without compromising price; phased supply over time.

secondly, not all lines will be equally available – some of the lines will be general release and fairly easily obtained, but others will be strictly limited, some down to two pairs of sneaks per store.  thats the second smart way of increasing supply without compromising price; variable availability.  the entry levels for demand are different – individuals with heavy demand will invest more time and energy than those with lower levels of demand but the value equation for both will be similar.

both the Sydney Festival and adidas' Star Wars range can teach communications a thing or two too: imagine that the theory of induced demand applies to bought media…  an increase in the volume of advertising impacts has resulted firstly in a fall in the value (real or perceived) of brand communications and secondly, an increase in the demand for brand communications…  advertising has gone from the Immortal to the Immediate:

Sistene_banksy from the Immortal to the Immediate; Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling (top) took four years to paint, current economics wouldn’t favour its commissioning today.  Banksy’s Tesco Flag (bottom) took a little more than four minutes

it couldn't be less about doing a few things well; fewer bigger better needs to be thrown out with the noughties.  rather its about doing lots of things well enough.  on which I'll let you enjoy the awesomeness of the below…  they're on phased release from now till March, form orderly queues please…




charging, internet, IPA|ED:final - existing customers, printing

Free No More: Why The Times’ efforts to Value and add Value to their Existing Customers could herald a better future for us all


it was whilst catching up on recent media events that I ended up lying in the Sydney summer sun listening – courtesy of MediaGuardian's Podcast – to London Times Editor James Harding on how he and the newspaper intend to un-write the economics of free on the internet.  in short, the title intends to start charging for the valuable content they create but have hereto been giving away for free online.  some snippets, as reported in the Guardian:

"We created a culture of free, and we absolutely were party to that … In the last few years, we have talked with great pride – we believed advertising would sustain us – about unique users … These people were window shopping down Oxford Street – they were not coming into our shops …

"From spring of next year we will start charging for the digital edition of the Times. We're working on the exact pricing model, but we'd charge for a day's paper, for a 24-hour sign-up to the Times. We'll also establish a subscription price as well … You have to be very careful with article-only economics … you will find yourself writing a lot more about Britney Spears and a lot less about Tamils in northern Sri Lanka."

"We keep investing in journalism, we believe that's what our readers want. We're not dumbing down, we're dumbing up … We are going to rewrite the economics of the newspaper, newsgathering and delivery business … We have to do that, we are in the fight of our lives."

what's of particular interest is the call to move away from micro-charging – the economics that sustain Amazon, iTunes and the like, and instead focus on the smaller customer base but higher-per-customer return of a subscription model…  of particular interest to Mediation is Harding's comments re home delivery services and the Times+ membership and reward scheme, about which he nodded towards loyalty…

"Historically, newspapers have treated their best customers worst and their worst customers best … We give the paper away to people who could not care less and we pay little or no attention to people who love it and read it every day."

I've written quite a lot about loyalty on these pages including a essay on the subject and won't reiterate now, but in short, I believe we've come to accept as fact the supposition that the primary role for marketing communications is growth through customer acquisition.  and that in doing so we ignore both the existence of current customers and the pivotal role they play in the growth of brands…

I believe that focusing on customer retention is an acquisition strategy.  I believe that it is those brands that choose to invest in marketing communications that talk with their existing customers, that are building the most robust marketing structures for the future.

there is much to criticise about hardings plans; people simply will not pay, that the charging structures won't allow let alone facilitate browsing, that the content arguably is overvalued … but there's the possibility that in the near future we'll talk about The Times as a case study in reinventing markets around customers not consumers.  there's the possibility that The Times' efforts become a landmark in enabling us to divest ourselves of the ill-suited model of ad funding for online-distributed content and invest instead in brand-funded collateral: on things that make the world a better, more interesting, more exciting, more educational or more spontaneous place.

its strange to thing that Rupert Murdoch, of all people, could help take us to that place.  but much stranger things have happened.