As a senior member of Gen Y, the 80s holds many of my fondest pop culture memories. The Back to the Future movies were huge hits when they were released and are still loved by millions today. I still remember seeing the original Back to the Future when it was first released to VHS. When the sequel came out, where Marty McFly travels to the future, my whole generation was blown away. No one can forget the flying DeLorean, the hoverboard, the 3D Jaws movie billboard to the self-tying Nike hi-tops that Marty McFly wears. With all this and so many other imaginative details, Director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg were able to send us all to the distant future: the year 2015. Now in 2011, Nike is finally releasing the same Nike’s Marty McFly wore to ride his hoverboard, after over 20 years of rumours and hype.
The legions of Back to The Future fans have always discussed and fantasized about when the hoverboard and the self-tying sneakers would become a reality. On September 6th, 2011 the Nike “Air Mags” finally came back from the future in a teaser Youtube video by user “DocEmmettBrown88”, for those who don’t know all their BTTF trivia, that’s the name of the scientist who invented the time traveling DeLorean.
The next day at around 3pm, NiceKicks.com, one of the leading authorities in the world of sneakers, received a special package from the future. Just like the scenes in the movies where Marty would receive messages from Doc Brown for another point in time, an iPod Shuffle had a special message from the Doc himself saying: “Welcome to Los Angeles. If my calculations are correct, over the next 24 hours you are about to see some SERIOUS SH*T!”. It included an invitation to: “IT’S ABOUT TIME…an unveiling that could change the course of time”, a special event in Hollywood tonight. I’m sure the NiceKicks staff are BTTF fans and I couldn’t imagine their excitement, I would have screamed and fainted for sure.
The package contained Throwback Pepsi (the mid-80s formula), some 80s candy, such as Nerds and bubble gum tape. It also had the Back to The Future Trilogy and a pair of Doc Brown’s metal shield glasses he wore in the film.
While there have been a few Nike releases with a “Marty McFly” theme, none have been official or done the pair from the movie justice. Last August, NiceKicks reported that Nike had filed a patented for a pair of battery-operated self-tying shoe with LED lights. Many dismissed it as a hoax since rumours of this sneaker being made have always come up over the years.
Now we have confirmation that the dream is real, tonight at 8pm, the real-deal Marty McFly Air Mag sneakers will be unveiled. They will be the first rechargeable footwear from Nike, featuring a glowing LED panel and it actually auto-ties itself with a button… JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE!!!!
1500 have been made, with 150 to go up for auction on eBay for 10 days, starting tonight. All proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease. In case you are not aware, Michael J. Fox who starred in BTTF, has Parkinsons which led to him starting this foundation. He will appear on David Letterman tonight, hopefully in his signature outfit from the movies. Leading up to this release, Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki said they would match all donations to this foundation up until 2012, at a max of $50 million. With over 20 years of hype for this release, I’m sure it will be an all out 10-day bidding war for these sneakers, so it’s great to see Brin and Wojcicki stepped up to match all donations.
Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, said he wanted to translate all the built-up excitement for this sneaker and turn it into a positive action to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. A great PR move by Nike to help a great cause. The viral-ness of this sneaker has blown up across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. This has covered all marketing costs, outside of the teaser video, release event and promo packages. And Nike and BTTF fans get a chance to fulfill a childhood dream while giving to charity. This ends up being a win-win-win situation, with Nike, charity and fans all benefiting. It also stands as another stellar example of viral marketing and leverage of inbound marketing techniques, brought to us by the geniuses at Nike.
Let’s take a look at some of the real-time stats from Topsy.com after 24 hours of NiceKicks’ post on receiving the promo package. The Back to The Future hashtag, #BTTF has been used just over 1000 times. “Back to The Future” has been mentioned 5,600 times, “Marty McFly” has been mentioned 2,800 times and “Nike Air Mag” mentioned 1,500 times. The post itself has had over 19,000 FB ‘likes’, 228 +1’s and 3683 retweets. The teaser Youtube video has received almost 185,00 views in two days. All this without the shoes even being released yet. Just imagine the ROI of promoting a pair of sneakers or a charity through traditional channels like banner, print or TV ads, compared to inbound marketing tactics of social networks and blogging. You can imagine the $$ saved.
We’ll see how long this topic trends with 10 days of auctioning. And I’ll also update if I’m incredibly lucky and win a bid… They would just make the perfect pair of (online)work shoes.
UPDATE: The winning big on the first pair was $37,500 by British rapper Tinie Tempah, who also received a plutonium case to carry them in and was apparently promised a puppy by the auction’s host. And unfortunately, the sneakers do not auto-fasten, guess we’ll actually have to wait until 2015 like in the movie… But in other BTTF news, Coke-a-Cola has angel invested in The Hoverboard Program, which aims to bring us the hoverboard by 4:29pm on the 21st of October 2015, which is the exact date/time when Marty McFly arrived in the future. Its hard to say how serious this program is, they are hiring though. Just like with the legacy of the Nike Air Mags, we’ll just have to wait and see.
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Photo Credits: NiceKicks.com