How Jordan Brand Dominated the Snapchat Game

Picture having the opportunity to attend the Jumpman after-party at the NBA All-Star Game in the Staples Center. You’re walking around on the court that just hosted the game’s biggest stars, so you pull up Snapchat to share the moment. As you pan around the court, Michael Jordan himself, positioned exactly as he was during his iconic free throw line dunk of 1988, appears on your screen in augmented reality. The depiction of the 25-year-old Mike is uncanny. More importantly, he’s wearing the coveted and unreleased Air Jordan Tinker III’s. You tap on the image and, within two clicks, are able to purchase the shoes. The sneakers are already waiting on your doorstep when you get home two hours later with a single note: “GOT ‘EM”.

That’s the experience Jordan Brand was able to create in partnership with Snapchat. Global Senior Director at Jordan Brand for Digital Dan Harbison and Global Head of Creative Strategy at Snap Inc. Jeff Miller shared how they made it happen.

The project was born just six weeks before Jordan Brand was set to partner with the NBA for All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. Harbison texted a picture of the brand’s logo superimposed above the Hollywood sign to an associate and asked, “How can we augment the f*ck out of LA?”

With the Jordan logo set to be featured on the uniforms, this was the most Jordan Brand had ever been involved with the NBA All-Star game. The digital ream wanted to take advantage of that with something bold.

”I’m looking for the unexpected, and I’m looking for things I haven’t seen before,” Harbison said.

The Snapchat team certainly hadn’t expected to be taking on a project like this before they took a call from Harbison. The Snap Inc. team had the call on mute as they asked, “can we do this?” after already agreeing to take on the challenge, according to Miller. They were tasked with creating a 3D model of a 25-year-old Michael Jordan without even being able to take a 3D scan, and they had to do it within six weeks.

But after 50 rounds of revisions on the augmented reality model and some help from 2K Sports, the Snapchat team was able to produce a product that would take users all the way back to 1988.

Creating a virtual model to show off the new shoes was only step one. Harbison’s team needed to make sure that the shoes were easy to purchase and delivered fast to replicate all of the benefits of an in-person sneaker launch.

Jordan Brand enlisted the help of Shopify, who has worked on similar Snapchat projects in the past, to handle the e-commerce experience of the mobile shoe launch. This was no easy task with how much traffic they would be handling on launch day, according to Harbison.

”Some of our products, when people go to purchase them, get millions of hits per second,” Harbison said.

Overcoming that challenge, Shopify was able to provide a user-friendly purchasing experience to every customer. Jordan Brand also reached out to Darkstore, an on-demand fulfillment startup, to handle the express delivery, who managed to ensure the shoes were delivered within the two-hour window, according to Harbison.

In the days leading up to the scheduled release, Jordan Brand tested the experience with people close to the company and cultural leaders like Russell Westbrook, DJ Khaled and Travis Scott. The results of the tests, and of the large-scale release, were better than Harbison could have hoped for.

“I kept waiting for something to go wrong,” Harbison said, “I was shocked when nothing went wrong.”

Not only did nothing go wrong, but seemingly everything went right for Jordan Brand on All-Star Weekend. Among those who participated in the launch events, the average active engagement with the digital experience was over 80 seconds, and 60% of customers who purchased the shoe shared with friends online. The campaign exceeded 100 million impressions only days after the augmented reality experience was released to the general public.

The combined effort of all parties earned the campaign five Clio awards, and the campaign has been nominated for even more recognition. It’s safe to say that the Jordan Brand knows what their customers want, know where to serve them, and knows how to serve them.

Jared Neumann

Jared Neumann

Writer at Advertising Week
Jared is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying strategic communications with a certificate in digital studies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is pursuing a career in advertising with the ultimate goal being to work at a reputable agency where he is able to help create innovative and impactful work.
Jared Neumann
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