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Editor's pick product technology Uncategorized

Nike taps into fit customization with app-enabled sneakers

Nike has launched a power lacing sneaker that allows users to customize the shoe’s fit through a dedicated app, called Nike Adapt.

The Adapt BB, which is targeting basketball players, uses the brand’s newly developed fit technology, FitAdapt, to adjust the shoe onto the person’s foot and give them the most comfortable and personalized experience. It is inspired, once more, by the self-lacing sneakers in the Back to the Future II movie from the 1980s; a dream that Nike has been chasing ever since.

It works by using pressure sensors to register the foot and activates a tiny motor and gear, which then tightens or, in other words, laces the upper side of the shoe. After it is securely attached to the player’s foot, the fit of the shoe can be adjusted either manually, by pressing a specific area on the sneaker, or by using a designated smartphone app.

For basketball players the sneaker is especially useful as they can adjust the fit of the shoe based on different moments in a game. For example, when the player is taking a time out or has finished the match and their feet are swollen after strenuous activity, the shoe can be loosened for comfort.

“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” says Eric Avar, Nike’s VP creative director of innovation. “During a normal basketball game the athlete’s foot changes and the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”

Similar to the HyperAdapt 1.0 self-lacing shoe, the first one the brand launched to market in 2016, this model was put through a series of tests including temperature and end of life tests, as well as focus groups featuring professional basketballers.

This is an important phase in the product development of a Nike product, says the brand, as founder Bill Bowerman, an athlete himself, believed fit was the foundation of any athletic performance. “The Nike Adapt BB helps the athlete find their custom fit and provides uncompromising lockdown, feel and traction throughout a game, but we knew it would only be validated once the game’s best players tried it out,” says Avar.

Nike’s future ambition is to bring the FitAdapt technology to other sports and lifestyle products in its portfolio, meeting fit demands that differ depending on context and environment.  

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Editor's pick mobile social media

Under Armour launches trivia-style live game for Stephen Curry superfans

Under Armour - Steph IQ
Under Armour – Steph IQ

Under Armour is jumping in on the popularity of mobile trivia games with Steph IQ, a new gaming app centred around UA ambassador and basketball player Stephen Curry.

To tie in with the fact Curry’s team, the Golden State Warriors, play against the New Orleans Pelicans today (May 3), Under Armour will be challenging Curry fans with an elimination style game to test their knowledge on the Bay Area and Curry’s career achievements.

“Steph IQ is one of the first ever mobile games triggered by an athlete’s live performance that marries the physical and digital experience of watching a sporting event,” says Jim Mollica, Under Armour’s head of global consumer engagement and digital marketing. “We’re using technology and trends in consumer behavior to elevate the dual screen viewing habits and the way fans tune in and engage with Curry’s performance.”

The gaming experience, which was developed with digital agency Red Interactive, and is reminiscent of those created by HQ Trivia, will be available whenever Curry scores his first three-pointer during any game of the NBA playoffs this season.

Steph IQ will notify the user of a new game within three minutes of the player making his first 3-pointer, which will then present users with eight different multiple choice questions, giving them 10 seconds to answer each. Questions are meant to get harder as the game progresses, challenging users to test not only their Curry knowledge, but NBA history.

In another similarity to HQ Trivia, the game will feature a host, which to further engage with their desired 13-to-18 year old audience is influencer Bdot. Winners who have answered all questions correctly will be entered into a sweepstakes for the chance of winning prizes such as the latest colorways for the Under Armour Curry 5 sneakers, as well as $10,000 in UA store credit and playoff tickets.

The app will be available until June 30 and the number of trivia games will depend on how many games the Warriors play in the playoffs. To promote the launch, Under Armour is tapping into Curry’s social channels as well as through NBA, the Warriors and its retail partner Foot Locker.

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Editor's pick film

Carmelo Anthony coaches basketball skills in Valentino resort campaign

Valentino Resort 2018
Valentino Resort 2018

NBA star Carmelo Anthony is helping the models of Valentino’s resort 2018 campaign up their basketball skills.

In a short film called How Good Is Your Game, the Oklahoma City Thunder player takes to St Vartan Park basketball court in New York to coach Tori Bowie, Imari Karanja, Faretta, Ratner, Jolie Alien and Mag Cysewska on how to both dribble and shoot.


The campaign accompanies a series of pop-up shops presenting the new resort collection in Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and Milan, as well as other special collaborations with Maxfield in Los Angeles and Harrods in London.

The pop-up spaces are focused on the active nature of the collection, with a reinforced concrete setting,samples in primary colours that recall the functional training box-jump and imaginary metropolitan basketball nets.

Each space reportedly has “authors”, rather than vendors, dedicated personnel “chosen for their inclination and cultural belonging”, who each wear a uniform of the white shirt from the Valentino Rockstud Untitled collection. The collection is also accompanied by a limited edition line of sporting goods for sale, including basketballs, yoga mats and sneakers.

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product social media

Under Armour responds to Curry 2 ‘Chef’ shoe mockery: we’re now truly in the footwear race

steph-Curry-2
The Curry Two Low “Chef” shoe

You release a new product into the market and instantly it gets panned. Not just in a subtle, no one seems to want to buy it way, but in an explosion of negative responses all over social media kind of way. What do you do?

That was the challenge facing the team at Under Armour earlier this month, when its new Curry Two Low sneaker – a white-on-white low-top attached to basketball player Stephen Curry – got a true Twitter roasting for being “uncool”. Now nicknamed the “Curry Chef” for its all-white, comfortable and functional kitchen appeal, it’s also been referred to as everything from a nurse shoe to a dad’s shoe. Not quite the market Under Armour is aiming for.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity today, David Droga, founder of Droga5, the agency of record for Under Armour, said: “When a hiccup like that happens, the usual client response is panic, retreat, mask or deny. In this case, the flurry of emails that came from [Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour] said ‘this is potentially f*cking amazing, we should lean into this’. That’s exactly the sort of thing you want to hear. It’s not about panicking, it’s about how do you make something great?”

Plank, who was also on stage, admitted he was excited for the way in which it lit up Twitter, even as the sneaker was referred to as everything from a lawnmowing shoe to a barbecuing one. “I thought oh my gosh, after 20 years in business doing this, people finally care,” he said. “That is everything you’re trying to do in marketing… the worst thing in life is apathy; when no one cares if you show up or not. “

Under Armour celebrates 20 years in business this year and is on target to hit $5bn in revenue during 2016. Within that it’s been making footwear for 13 years and selling them for 10. “It’s taken a long tine to get to where we are now, but we’re still developing the company we want to be,” explained Plank.

He hopes to use the emotion driven from the launch of the Curry Two Low to move the business forward. It’s proof, he commented, that it’s no longer a two-horse race in footwear, but three – or in other words that Under Armour is now up there competing with Nike and adidas in that specific space.

Overall, Under Armour is now the number two sportswear brand in the US after Nike (it overtook adidas in early 2015). And that idea of competition and the competitive nature that Under Armour inherently has was discussed on a much broader scale too.

Plank referred to the idea of having moonshots, or big ambitions, in everything they do: “We don’t think about what if a competitor makes a new fleece upper; we think about what if Amazon and Apple and Google decide to start making clothes? When we challenge our product teams, we start there.” That future-proofing, provides them with the ability to never be on the back foot if competitors do release something, he said.

But ultimately his key message came down to always maintaining a point of view and having real belief in what you do. “You’re not a brand if you don’t have a point of view, in my opinion,” he noted. “And the brand is everything. The brand, the brand, the brand – everything comes back to the brand.”