Nike enlists kids to build ‘Airtopia’ in Roblox

Nike’s Air Max line has turned 34 years old. To mark the moment, the sportswear brand has enlisted a bunch of kids to build its presence in online gaming platform Roblox.

In 1978, Nike debuted ‘Air Tailwind,’ the first shoe made using air-cushioning technology, followed up by the iconic Air Max 1. Fast forward to the present day, the designs and colorways may differ, but the recognizable bubble on the sole of the shoe remains largely the same. Building on this, creative agency AnalogFolk brought an important question to the brand: inside the bubble is where the magic lies – adults see nothing, but what do kids see?

The question was the catalyst for what became the ‘Magic is in the Air’ campaign – a story of a spaceship that has crash-landed in the metaverse, letting loose a bunch of aliens. To progress, users have to open the portal that floats above Nikeland in Roblox.

Everything is seen through ‘kid vision’ and encourages youngsters to embrace their creativity and imagination through the Nike lens. It takes the playful nature of youths, the heritage of an iconic sportswear brand and the innovation of the metaverse to create a connection between young people and the product.

The message on the website reads: “Grown-ups think that the air bubble you see in the Air Max Motif is just air, but we know better. Pick up a shoe and take a look through one of those windows and you’ll see what we mean. And that’s just the start. You have to try them on and start playing to really get to know that squidgy-soft, bouncy-ball feeling. Because bubbles are a bit magic. But you already knew that.”

It’s the first time that Nike had created a specific campaign to celebrate Air Max Day (March 27) for kids. Tapping into the statistics that gen A spends more time in the metaverse than any generation before them, but typically has little say in the spaces where they play, AnalogFolk turned over the creativity and control to youngsters themselves.

They worked alongside the ‘Nike Play Council’ with three representatives from the art, music and movement categories. Doodle Boy created renditions of the aliens, viral drummer Nandi Bushell created loads of different sound effects and 14-year-old skateboarder Rayssa Leal was the inspiration for types of movement.

Getting their own Roblox avatars was apparently a dream come true for the trio, as well as meeting each other and working collaboratively together. Stepping inside the colorful world of Airtopia, the connection and imagination the kids collectively brought is obvious and slightly infectious.

Reception to the project has been largely positive across social media, with further amplification coming from the kids’ own channels, augmented reality (AR) lenses, owned digital media, teaser shorts and the main film.

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