Speaking of Nike, with visions of absolute power dancing through my head, I went and tried out the cell phone-operated NikeID billboard in Times Square last week that lets you design your own shoe and display it to the hordes walking by.(Unfortunately, it looks like the billboard may no longer be live.) My first attempt, at about 12:30 p.m., was a failure, as the billboard, on the Reuters building at 43rd and Seventh, seemed to have a time-share arrangement with the Pillsbury Doughboy, who is currently promoting his 40th birthday in a splashy fashion that might make Paris Hilton jealous. But at about 6 p.m., when the youth market that probably gets into this stuff was well out of math class, the Nike ad was on full display, goading me into giving it a spin. Standing under a slight overhang in a light drizzle, clutching my phone, I dialed up the number, and sure enough the 60-second time limit I had to design my shoe started ticking away on the billboard. I got the hang of it just in time to create this nifty red shoe—a link to this picture of it was immediately sent via SMS to my phone. (I could’ve bought a pair of these shoes from my phone, too, but I’m not currently in the market for new ones.) People at AdFreak’s cousin, Adweek, asked me what the experience felt like, and I guess in the end I found it different than I expected. Rather than feeling the adrenaline rush of being in charge, it felt oddly, sort of pleasantly, covert. I was the woman behind the curtain rather than the woman in front of it because to all those walking by, I looked like just another commuter, calling home to say what train I’d be on. In fact, seconds after controlling the billboard, that’s exactly what I was. I jumped back down the rabbit hole into the Times Square subway station and made it to Grand Central in time to catch the 6:18.
—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor