Nike store prepares virtual outdoor adventure with mobile technology

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Dive brief:

  • Nike and retail experience agency Hovercraft Studio have developed an in-store activation that simulates an outdoor expedition while keeping COVID-19 safety protocols in mind, according to details shared with the sister publication. Marketing Dive.
  • Currently available at Nike’s New York House of Innovation and through February 11, the experience seeks to recreate the feeling of visiting Smith Rock State Park in Oregon. A geolocated microsite serves as a “base camp” for visitors, who can use the mobile site to access a map and checklist of activities that require augmented reality (AR) and scanning QR codes to complete.
  • Once users fully explore activation, they are rewarded with physical gifts and an AR model of the new ACG Hiker shoe. Stress comes in the form of experiences that mix physical and digital elements – sometimes so-called “phygital” marketing – are in high demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dive overview:

COVID-19 has presented significant challenges to experiential marketing, but Nike’s latest work with Hovercraft shows how mobile can help brands run in-person activations more securely. The concept deploys a number of tactics, including AR, QR codes, and geofencing, to ensure contact with physical surfaces and other people is kept minimal, while leveraging those same technologies to build a larger narrative. around Nike’s ACG HO20 line of outdoor products. Nike is also carrying out a similar experiment in its Parisian flagship.

The experience includes virtual animals like foxes, snakes and bald eagles for deeper immersion, as well as physical props such as a terrarium containing Nike products, as seen in a video posted by Hovercart. While traveling, users can scan a QR code in-store to access an AR Yeti that sports a reimagined version of the old-fashioned ACG Hiker shoe. Nike + members also receive an ACG canteen and sticker pack.

In a press release, Hovercraft – which has long worked with Nike on technology experiments – suggested that the pandemic has caused experiential marketers to think beyond transaction-driven activities.

“As many brands trade experience design for security and other logistics priorities, we are trying to strike a balance,” the agency said, later noting that the mobile-centric approach avoids problems such as frequent cleaning of surfaces.

Despite greater success in the retail category, Nike plans to expand its in-store presence while focusing on digital, which now accounts for a quarter of its sales in North America. In a recent conference call with investors, Nike executives said the company’s membership program has added 70 million new users globally since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Nike putting a more focused push behind its ACG collection now also makes sense, as the interest in outdoor activities that have social distancing built in exploded during the pandemic.

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