LeBron James has made a name for himself as the superstar forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He gained national attention in 2003 as the second-ever high school player to be drafted to the NBA in the number one spot. And when Nike approached him with a $100 million shoe contract, King James became a media poster child.
The shoes are coveted – like modern-day Air Jordans. So, in line with the November 2006 Cavaliers versus Knicks game, Nike, with the help of design consultancy Eight Inc. (San Francisco), created a 5500-square-foot pop-up store in Manhattan’s SoHo to promote the extremely limited-edition Zoom LeBron IV NYC basketball shoe (only 250 pairs were available for sale at the store).
An entirely black entrance emphasized a single suspended acrylic tube displaying the popular, yet pricey shoes that retail for around $139. Distinctive game day sounds like dribbling basketballs, booming announcers and squeaky shoes transitioned visitors from street-level to James’ athletic world.
Once inside the space, visitors traveled among different snapshots of the basketball star’s life. Suspended tubes held personal objects such as a model of the housing development where James grew up and his favorite cereal. Wall graphics depicted James in action and more tubular displays presented jerseys and athletic equipment.
Cleveland might have lost that November game to the Knicks, but fans from both sides were celebrating with the exclusive shoes.
Client: Nike, Beaverton, Ore. - Brian Fairben, brand marketing director; Chris Wright, associate brand manager; Jeff Lyman, associate brand manager
Design/Architect: Eight Inc., San Francisco - Tim Kobe, principal; Wilhelm Oehl, principal; Eric Scott, principal; Doo Ho Lee, studio director; Ryoji Karube, senior designer; Bojana Ilievski, senior designer; Andrew Lauck, project manager
General Contractor: Czarnowski, Atlanta - Larry Montagne, account executive; Clay Brock
Audio/Visual: Staging Techniques, New York
Digital Printing: Fuel Digital Inc., New York
Photography: Roberto DAddona Photography, New York