This Was the Most Successful Shoe Launch in Nike History

Nike Inc.’s third-quarter earnings were announced Tuesday and included softer overall sales growth and a weaker-than-expected Q4 forecast — but it wasn’t all bad news for the brand.

In addition to a 20 percent year-over-year profit increase, Nike reached a milestone during Q3 by notching the biggest sneaker launch in company history. The record-setting shoe: the “Space Jam” Air Jordan 11, which was released during the holiday ’16 season to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the animated film starring Michael Jordan.

Air Jordan 11
The Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

“The top performer, however, was the ‘Space Jam’ [Air Jordan] 11s,” said Nike president Trevor Edwards. “And when I say ‘top performer,’ I don’t just mean in Q3. The ‘Space Jam’ 11 was the largest and most successful shoe launch in the history of Nike. This speaks not only to the obvious demand for our products, but also our ability to connect greater numbers of consumers worldwide to the products they covet.

“At the same time, the Jordan brand continues its expansion ‘beyond basketball,’ this time with the University of North Carolina’s football team and increasingly into the women’s business with the NikeCourt ‘Flare’ AJ1,” Edwards added.

The “Space Jam” Air Jordan 11’s rollout was accompanied by an aggressive marketing campaign that included matching apparel, special events and new Jordan designs in lookalike colorways. The sneakers retailed for $220 and were released on Dec. 10, although they were not easy to get. Some shoppers waited 18 hours in line for a chance to buy the kicks, which sold out the same day they were released.

Last year’s “Space Jam” Air Jordan 11 was the sneaker’s third release since its original launch in 2000. It was re-released for a second time in 2009, however the 2016 iteration was the closest to the pair worn by Jordan in the film.

Air Jordan 11
A detailed look at the embroidery featured on the Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

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