Nike Rain

Nike Voice Sale for Sneaker Launch Runs Away with Cannes Lions Awards

A collaboration between Nike, R/GA and RAIN introduced a real-time voice assistant sale on a new sneaker model during an NBA basketball game in February. This past week the campaign earned three Cannes Lions awards. The event earned the R/GA, RAIN and Nike team bronze lions in Creative eCommerce, Excellence in Brand Integration, and Sponsorships and Use of Integrated Media.

Voice for Self-Lacing

Nike and R/GA brought RAIN on to find a unique way of using voice technology for the release of its Adapt BB self-lacing shoes, and the agency came up with the idea of a real-time sale of the sneakers during a basketball game. The promotional event took place last February during halftime at a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics where those watching the game with access to Google Assistant could use “ask Nike” to buy a pair of the $350 shoes. Six minutes later, the shoes were gone.

“The most unique element was that it was a voice-activated sale during a live broadcast,” said RAIN client strategy director Dale LaRue in an interview with Voicebot. “It’s the first time anyone’s seen that voice could actually unlock content in real-time.”

LaRue explained that a novel commerce experience was ideal for selling the Adapt BB because of the futuristic nature of the shoe itself. The shoe uses sensor technology to determine the perfect fit and adjust the laces to the best form for the foot.

Nothing But Net

Nike worked with R/GA, RAIN, and the NBA to build up interest in the event and to explain the new concept. NBA players Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma starred in special videos for Google Assistant screens to answer fan questions about how it would work. On-screen messages were displayed during the game on TNT to get people hyped about the halftime activity, and commentator Ernie Johnson officially announced the sale had begun and that viewers should ask Google Assistant to reserve a pair for them.

“When you have a captive audience, you have to know how you can connect with them,” LaRue said. “We made sure the sale was relevant to the content, and there’s nothing more relevant to selling basketball shoes than an actual game.”

Final Buzzer

More than 15,000 viewers asked Nike for the shoes during the basketball game, well out-stripping the number of shoes available. But, while the unique nature of the sale and event certainly helped drive its success, voice commerce, in general, is set to increase. New surveys and studies are showing that, while nascent, the market for buying by voice is on the rise.

“It’s an entirely new way of shopping,” LaRue said. “This is the use case we speak about with other clients.”

This was not Google Assistant’s only spotlight at an NBA game this year. Google gave away nearly 20,000 Google Home Mini smart speakers to attendees of game one of the NBA playoff contest between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers in May.


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