Nike Plus tennis shoes
An unmistakable figure sat with Roger Federer’s entourage at the US Open last week: Michael Jordan.
His Airness is no tennis aficionado—this was apparently his first-ever appearance at the tournament—but like the rest of the Arthur Ashe stadium, he was there to look at Federer’s footwork. The 17-time Grand Slam winner was wearing new Nike tennis shoes that he designed himself, which are based on the Air Jordan basketball shoes that Nike has produced with Jordan for 25 years.
Federer’s shoes, officially known as Zoom Vapor 9 Tour AJ3s, are another example of Nike’s supreme skill in managing what it calls “demand creation.” Federer and Jordan are not believed to be friends, but Nike still released a short video of them messing around on the piano like old chums:
And Federer was corralled into joining Instagram to post a shot of the two of them:
Why has Jordan been drafted in to give Federer’s shoes a lift?
Because, even a decade after he retired, Jordan remains one of the biggest draws in sport. He is still paid around $90 million a year by Nike, who in turn made $2.3 billion on Jordan-associated merchandise in 2013. These figures dwarf those of any of Jordan’s successors in the NBA. At the US Open, Federer’s bewildered opponent, Marinko Matosevic, called out to Jordan when he spotted him; the court cameras put him up on the big screen, and the commentary team were frequently distracted. The coverage also meant that a limited run of the trainer, which retails at $200, sold in just minutes. Nike is sure to produce a second run, but one that is small enough to maintain a scarcity value.
But the real point of the collaboration is the hint it gives about what might come next for Federer. Even with his remarkable stamina and fitness—he has played in every Grand Slam tournament for the past 15 years—he is 33, a pensionable age in men’s tennis. For his sponsors, the biggest of which is Nike, it is time to plan what comes next.
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Shoes (NIKE SPORTSWEAR)