NEW YORK Twenty-five years after introducing its iconic Air Force One basketball shoe, Nike is touting the release of new brand extension Air Force 25 through a rap party with MTV Networks.
The show, titled 1 Night Only, rounds up hip-hop royalty Kanye West, Nas, Rakim, KRS-One and producer Rick Rubin to perform an original rhyme track.
Along with the concert footage, shot in December, the half-hour commercial-free special traces the historic link between AF1 and the street culture that adopted it, said Nike director of U.S. advertising Adam Roth.
The MTV property draws a parallel between the staying power of AF1's air-padded design and hip-hop music, both of which were originally dismissed as fads.
It also compares the popular rise of the footwear with the origin of MTV, observed Tim Rosta, the channel's svp, integrated marketing. "It started out as a ballplayer shoe and spilled over to the community," he said, adding "MTV started as a new way to consume music and became its own icon of music lifestyle."
In addition to previewing the new Air Force 25, 1 Night Only showcases more than 1,000 variations on the 1982 prototype, taken from corporate archives near Beaverton, Ore.
The show is reaching sneakerheads via MTV and MTV2 in a suite of airings that began last weekend. On Wednesday the network's Sucker Free program ran a three-minute music video featuring a montage of the commercial shoot.
Beyond the branded bash, the athletic gear maker has devised a cross-platform media package that includes a 60-second spot. It breaks this week on MTV.
Dubbed "The Second Coming: Our Game. Our Time," the spot makes its next appearance in 30- and 60-second versions during this weekend's AFC and NFC championship games. The New York office of Wieden + Kennedy created the ad.
But paid advertising was not the preferred method of heralding the AF1 at its genesis. Word-of-mouth was.
And Nike claims it still downplays traditional ad methods when it comes to the Air Force line.
"We've been pretty deliberate in not advertising the AF1," said Roth, noting that 1 Night Only offers "the opportunity to celebrate the last 25 years of the shoe and the people who have adopted it."
The partners are also co-sponsoring digital spinoffs of the project, including exclusive performance footage at nikeairforce.mtv.com and a national billboard and print campaign that lets consumers request highlights of the spot on their mobile gadgets. Behind-the-scenes content from the ad shoots is posted at nikebasketball.com.
A remix of the exclusive concert track, "Better Than I've Ever Been," will debut next month on iTunes.
AF25 "has been on the court" since the beginning of the basketball season, and will receive its primary launch on January 25th, said Roth.
Nike's partnership with MTV encompasses other productions, like basketball competition Nike Battlegrounds, which first aired in 2004.
"So much of Nike's DNA borrows from hip-hop culture and that intersects with our brand, noted Rosta.