At Christmas 1987, my brother told me that my gift was a pair of Air Jordan 1 Banned, but was so sad when I discovered that they were not sneakers, was a television, and the Air Jordan went from being an object of desire to become a kind of obsession that lasts me until today as if it were a religion.
The biggest challenge for a brand, for an industrial designer, for the marketing team and all the departments behind it, is to create a product that becomes an object of desire, a product that drives the masses crazy and is capable of becoming a cult object, something that can border on the sacred for the most enthusiastic of the brand, an icon. Nike achieved it many years ago, thanks to Peter Moore and many other factors that I will tell you about here today, and today this pair of sneakers is more latent than ever, influencers from all over the planet wear their pair of Nike Air Jordan 1, by social media as a must-have, without your pair of Nike Air Jordan 1, you're out, you're not cool, you're out.
It was the 80s and a young rookie Michael Jordan signed with Nike who wanted this young promise to be a representative of the brand, premiering his pair of Nike with his new team the Chicago Bulls. At first, Michael Jordan was reluctant since he didn't use to wear Nike, he didn't like his sneakers very much, he even complained that the sole of the sneakers he was presented with was too thick. He used to use other brands like Converse and Adidas, and his goal was to sign with Adidas, with whom he was about to sign, but in the end, a contract for 5 years of half a million dollars a year, which neither Adidas nor Converse could come close to, convinced Michael Jordan who ended up signing with Nike.
Finally, Nike managed to convince him, and thanks to a first design by Peter Moore they got the model that would end up being the predecessor of the Air Jordan 1, the Nike Air Ship. This was the first model that the star would wear during the 84/85 season and that the vast majority are unaware of. Michael alternated this model with the AJ1 throughout the season. Michael Jordan thus became the first player in NBA history to wear his own sneakers, created exclusively for him and that would be the origin of the multimillion-dollar franchise that it is today.
The brand created these sneakers tailored for the player with a thinner sole and in two different color combinations, white and red and black and red, and as a prototype for what would come later. In those years the NBA had a regulation that forced it to maintain color consistency with the rest of the team, Michael almost always used white with the swoosh and some red details as part of the sole, the shaft, and the first Air logo Jordan's winged ball. It wasn't until 1987 that the Jumpman arrived, the Michael Jordan silhouette logo literally flying to dunk that is applied to the franchise's Mid and Low models. However, in some games such as the Slam Dunk Contest of the 1985 All-Star Game, he wore what would become the most coveted combination, the black and red baptized "Banned" for his subsequent ban by the NBA.
Michael Jordan came like a steamroller, pushing the limits and breaking the NBA rule of wearing only team colors. Not all of his team liked this decision, but Michael would end up shining like the star he is. In a game against the New York Knicks, he decided to play in the black and red version of the sneakers, getting the commissioner to send a letter to the Chicago Bulls on February 25, 1985, informing them that the use of those sneakers was illegal and that rookie Michael Jordan would be fined $5,000 every time he wore them in a game.
Despite this, Nike turned it around and created a brilliant and legendary marketing strategy when it decided to take advantage of the ban, and create controversy around the sneakers that came on the market for a price of about 60 USD in March 1985, creating great anticipation before its release. Although it cost them $5,000 per game, or so the urban legend says, they achieved sales that were out of all odds and course much higher than the cost of the NBA sanction, they raised $70 million in the first two games. months and more than 100 million US dollars at the end of the year. The forbidden always attracts more, without a doubt and The Nike Air Jordan 1 Banned were created to be loved, they had become a product desired by all, an icon, a symbol of struggle and rebellion, the sneakers of the hero Michael Jordan.
This is how Nike managed to change the world of sneaker marketing forever. To this was added the scarcity marketing strategy that continues to provide such good results today. The secret ingredient of the franchise over the years has always been to maintain shortages, unrequited demand, and never having enough sneakers to meet market demand. In the early '90s, Jordans was such a coveted shoe that violence even erupted in some neighborhoods in the US. There were cases like that of two teenagers who were killed to steal their Jordan sneakers.
However, the phenomenon continued and even today there are still robberies to steal some AJ. Jordan sneakers are a status symbol that not everyone can afford, not only because of the price but because of their exclusivity, because of their scarcity. According to The Lyst Index in its most recent quarterly report, it classifies the Air Jordan 1 Dior as one of the most popular items of the moment, with a waiting list of 5 million people and only 8,500 pairs available at an original price of more than 1,700 USD and up to 12 times more on resale.
As I said at the beginning, 37 years later the Nike Air Jordan 1 is still more fashionable than ever, celebrities and influencers from all over the planet wear their AR1 proud to own this pair of sneakers. Rihanna, Zendaya, Kaia Gerber, Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Addison Rae, and Bella Hadid are some of the celebrities who wear Nike Air Jordan 1 today. A woman wearing a well-matched Air Jordan 1 is super sexy.
This iconic pair has transcended generation after generation, they have been made in High, Mid and Low, dozens of color combinations, different materials, collaborations with other brands such as Supreme, Dior, Levi's, Swarovski® or artists such as Eminem, Travis Scott, J. Balvin and an almost endless list that has been extended to other Nike models such as the Dunk or the Air Force One. How Nike made these sneakers the most desired in history, is a clear example of the power of marketing, yes, marketing well done, which can get some sneakers with an original price of less than 200usd, to reach prices that exceed two million dollars in the market.
Although they are also Jordans, the most expensive Nike sneakers are not the AJ1 model, but rather the Solid Gold OVO x Air Jordan created in collaboration with the Canadian artist Drake and designed in 24k gold by the American Matthew Senna. Each shoe weighs 23 kilos and the pair costs more than 2 million dollars. Sotheby's was in charge of auctioning the following in the list of the most expensive sneakers in the world, it is also from the Nike brand and it is about the sneakers that Kanye West wore in 2008, a Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype that reached the exorbitant price $1.8 million
In third place is this pair of Nike brands that reached a price of 1.47 million dollars. Curiously, they are a pair of Nike Air Ship in white and red that was used by Michael Jordan during his fifth game in the NBA, played on November 1, 1984, with the Denver Nuggets. Thus, these sneakers used by Jordan are the oldest that are preserved to date. Tommie Tim III Lewis is the person who has kept these sneakers until now. He was working as a ball boy in the game between the Chicago Bulls and the Nuggets in 1984 and took home the Air Ships that Jordan himself gave him.
Although it may seem impossible, this pair is not the most expensive in history, to date, the most expensive pair, and it was also auctioned by Sotheby's. The only ones that exceed these crazy prices reserved only for millionaires are the Li-Ning Way of Wade 4 The Fire Monkey, auctioned for a charitable cause for more than 2.3 million dollars. They are made of 18k gold and encrusted with white diamonds and other precious stones, inspired by the new year according to the lunar calendar.
How could it be otherwise, in the market of religious sneaker collectors there are millions of people who are dedicated to the resale of these iconic products that have made more than one millionaire. Currently, on the resale market, you can find the Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High Bred Banned from 2016 for more than 500usd and the Bred OG from 1985 for just under 100,000usd in specialized stores such as StockX, Klekt, Restocks, Vinted, or Wallapop.
As in the traditional stock market, StockX is an online platform that reflects the prices according to the supply and demand of the most coveted pairs and that, according to this equation, can raise their prices to unsuspected quotas.
You can find dozens of websites, physical stores, Facebook groups, Telegram groups, Wechat groups... dedicated to the business of multiplying the prices of sneakers on resale. But you have to be careful because not all of them guarantee the authenticity of your purchase, and in many cases, they are scams where they sell you copies and imitations.
Within counterfeits, as with all exclusive luxury products, there are different types of quality in the copy and the materials used, some even deceiving even the best-trained eyes. That is why it is worth buying on the platforms that assure us the authenticity of our acquisition. Although the brands try to distribute the new releases among all their followers, there is currently a large majority of professionals dedicated to obtaining the most exclusive models, through the use of computer tools such as robots, which automate the processes to obtain the right to acquire the most exclusive pairs for the first time to be able to resell them later. Previously, you could see long lines of people waiting in front of the stores one or two days before the launch of exclusive models, where arguments and altercations to get the coveted sneakers were common.
Today exit dates are set to auction purchase options, if you get it, you can buy a pair of sneakers, but most likely you won't. Those who are professionally engaged in reselling use software (robots) that exhaust purchase options in a matter of seconds. This software is not accessible to all audiences, since it costs thousands of dollars, and it is only profitable if you are really going to make a considerable purchase and dedicate yourself to them professionally.
In this particular case study, the marketing strategy has been absolutely brilliant and has therefore achieved unprecedented results. An exclusive product with excellent quality was created, a product designed by a professional that provided a very attractive aesthetic as well as tailored comfort (1984). The strategy was based on sports marketing, with the young and rookie but promising MJ being the representative of the brand and the role model.
Sports marketing is in itself highly effective, due to the passions that sport itself arouses among fans and followers of a team or an individual athlete. To this strategy, we must add the gift that the NBA gave them by prohibiting and sanctioning Michael Jordan while playing for the Chicago Bulls wearing those sneakers, generating a controversy that would unquestionably favor Nike. They indeed knew how to take advantage of this situation and turned the AJ1 Banned into a symbol of rebellion against prohibition, making them even more attractive than they already were on their own.
To top it off, scarcity marketing, which they continue to use today, makes these sneakers even more attractive. Although their starting price ($60-$65) was not very high, not everyone could afford them, which added to the desire of consumers to own a pair of the coveted sneakers. Nike used all its usual distribution channels, which were not a few, reaching all corners of the USA and finally expanding throughout the planet.
The marketing mix strategy of the time based on the 4ps: product, price, place, promotion, taken to the maximum splendor gave them a result that no one in the Nike marketing department would have ever dreamed of since there were no similar precedents.