Cannes Lions winner: Nike turns graffiti walls into stores in Brazil

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Nike’s latest Air Max launch, created by AKQA, transformed graffiti walls into Nike stores, winning the Media Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

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Case study summary

  • Nike parnered with São Paulo’s graffiti artists to update their existing works with the new Nike Air Max range

  • The trainers were then exclusively available pre-sale by visiting the works using geolocation to purchase.

  • The campaign resulted in a 32% increase in sales for Nike with all models sold out, and the murals forever embedded in São Paulo’s cultural heritage.
  • The challenge

    Nike found new ways to fuse tech with creative while also tapping into Brazil’s niche graffiti culture to boost sales.

    The solution

    The campaign’s approach to both traditional and new media, stunts, social and digital platforms, and even cultural appreciation for street art is what made it worthy of the coveted Media Lions Grand Prix award. Through collaborations with various artists, social media influencers, and the active sneaker head community in Brazil, the project literally turned walls in São Paulo into Nike stores.

    The project saw São Paulo’s graffiti artists update their existing works with the new Nike Air Max range featuring frequent launches each week, across neighbourhoods. The actual Nike Air Max models were then exclusively available pre-sale by visiting the works using geolocation to purchase. As an extra reward, an animated film starring the graffiti character wearing the shoes was also made available.

    The results

    The campaign resulted in a 32 percent increase in sales for Nike. The Graffiti Stores proved a successful platform for the Air Max releases with all models sold out, and the murals forever embedded in São Paulo’s cultural heritage.

    The city’s governor had erased hundreds of street art pieces, which forced the project’s artists to simply update existing works. However, during the project, the governor was convicted for damaging cultural heritage, and with the court-backing of a reinvigorated legitimate license championing the artists, six iconic characters that were previously erased, were resurrected.

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    AKQA Executive Creative Director Diego Machado said: “It’s a wonderful privilege to have the opportunity to contribute to the culture of a beautiful city, by giving love to an art that had been unjustly excluded, but now is receiving global recognition.” He added: “With a relationship that spans over two decades, Nike is a part of AKQA’s soul and gives this Grand Prix victory special meaning for everyone of us. We thank Nike Brazil for bravely supporting the idea with the same courageous spirit that defines the legendary Air Max.”

    AKQA Executive Creative Director Hugo Veiga said: “It’s ironic to win the Media Grand Prix when AKQA is the only agency in Brazil that doesn’t buy any media! This fantastic win reinforces the truth that creativity has no boundaries of place nor position.”



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