Nike Japan Air Max Day

Nike celebrates Air Max Day with larger than life billboard campaign

We speak to Julie Igarashi, VP creative director at Nike Japan, about the creative tech behind the brand’s viral stunt, which marks one of the sneakerhead community’s favourite days of the year

Nike’s Air Max has gained a cult following since its launch in 1987. The first Nike shoe to feature visible air pockets in the sole, it has gone on to become one of the brand’s most successful and recognisable sneakers of all time.

Taking place on March 26, Nike’s annual Air Max Day celebration is an essential date on every sneakerhead’s calendar. One of the places Air Max Day has gained a cult following is Tokyo, where the Nike Japan team has been planning something special to mark the trainer’s 35th birthday this year: the brand’s first 3D OOH campaign.

“Nike Air is a celebration of creativity, imagination and innovation. We wanted to convey those elements through a technology aligned to that groundbreaking spirit, [which] would spark excitement with sneaker lovers and passersby alike,” says Nike Japan’s VP creative director, Julie Igarashi.

The team started exploring the possibility of creating something for this emerging medium in late 2021. The project is a collaboration between Nike Tokyo’s in-house brand creative studio and Japanese creative collective Cekai, whose founder Kota Iguchi co-directed the motion graphics.

“Our original concept was to show the Air Max styles that are iconic and meaningful in Japanese sneaker culture as if they were oversized blow up balloons, like those that appear in a parade,” says Igarashi. “We understood that the impact of 3D billboards is not only physically in Tokyo but digitally all over the world. With that in mind, we set out to create something that could be just as impactful on the street in Shinjuku as it is on your phone in New York.”

The end result, which took two months to bring to life, features the instantly recognisable orange Nike sneaker box, which bursts open to reveal a rotating display of Air Max styles while hinting at the inspiration behind each shoe.

Nike Japan Air Max Day

The innovative campaign has had a huge reaction both on social media and on the ground among people passing through Shinjuku Station, which is known for being one of the busiest train stations in the world.

“We were anticipating a big impact from the placement, and it’s been amazing to see how much excitement this creative for Air Max has created in Tokyo and beyond,” says Igarashi. “We’re always looking for new ways to surprise consumers with exciting, imaginative, and meaningful experiences – this project hit that benchmark, for sure.”

On Air Max Day itself, Nike will take over the entire building – which is also wrapped with a giant stack of Nike shoeboxes – and host a range of experiences designed to bring together Tokyo’s thriving sneaker community.

Creative Director: Julie Igarashi
Designer: Yoshio Kato
Art Director: Danny Demers
Studio Manager & Producer: Nanaka Sakurai