Nike MAG Shoes: Was This Promotion a Missed Opportunity?

The Nike MAG. You might not recognize the name, but if you consider yourself a geek (like most of us here) or if you’re a shoe nut, then you probably have a good idea. If you’re both, well, then this is a dream come true!

Does the term POWER LACES ring a bell? That’s right. I’m talking about Marty McFly’s sweet kicks from Back to the Future II. These Nikes are possibly the most famous sneakers of all time (of all time! Thank Kanye) and they have finally become a reality. Known to many as the greatest shoe never made, Nike has sought fit to bring the long desired shoes to the masses — 22 years after the release of the movie. In a grand gesture however, it was not for their own profit. They sold all of the shoes through eBay and 100% of the sale prices went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Some pairs of the shoes went for over $10,000!

Now, on to the issues that Nike MAGs provoke. I’m not one to bash anything for charity (and the money they raised was certainly well deserved), but the timing just seems off. For one, the laces aren’t powered! Excuse me, but the laces are what made the shoe famous! How do you wait 22 years and then release the shoes before they are a fully-realized version of what everyone has been waiting for? The worst part is that the technology is almost there, so why jump the gun and release them now? Can you imagine how much more Nike MAGs would have fetched if the laces were powered?

Would Nike MAGs have fetched more if the laces were powered?

Another reason I say the timing is off is because they just had a big marketing push for the 25th anniversary edition of the Back to the Future trilogy on Blu-Ray a few months back. That could have been an opportune time to release the famous shoes! They could have had something in the box that alerted everyone to the future release, or they could have included a bonus feature or trailer on the disc. But as it ended up, Nike MAGs just kind of popped up out of nowhere with limited notice. They obviously sold for a lot of money, but I just don’t feel they maximized their chance at greatness.

Also, since no one was expecting these shoes in 2011 anyway, they could have easily released them in 2015 (the year the movie takes place), which would have had fans of the movie in delirious excitement! Instead, Nike only teased fans by telling us (in their eBay FAQ page) that if we wanted power laces, we’d have to wait until 2015. I’m not sure exactly what that means. Is that a promise, or only an homage to the movie? If they release the MAGs again, then all of the initial excitement would have dissipated.

So what’s the point here? They made tons of money, right? For charity, no less. My point is that this Nike promotion and release could have been done better. Timing is everything, and better timing would have meant even more money for those who need it the most!

Were you pumped for the release of Marty McFly’s futuristic Nike MAGs? Do you think we’ll see them with power laces in 2015? How could Nike improve on this for next time (if there is one)?

Image credit to Nike Air Mags on Facebook.


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  1. Eric

    Even Disney blows their chances to optimize making two bucks instead of a buck.

    Limited-edition items always present a question to me: is it better to keep them exclusive, make only so many, and sell them for a lot of money? Or would it be a better business decision to lower their MSRP, make them accessible to the average, middle-class person, and risk their exclusivity by actually making money? Fender pulls this stunt with their Custom Shop and Signature guitars all the time…they always opt to make smaller amounts for higher costs rather than make their instruments accessible.

    Back to Nike: If they wanted, they still could’ve given a portion of the proceeds to Fox’s organization.

    As for how to improve these shoes? Well, yeah, sure, power laces.

    …or how about being actually ABLE TO WEAR THEM?

    10K for shoes they advise you not to wear?!?! That’s like paying five-star dinner prices for plastic food. Makes no damn sense.

    Good post, sir. Fingers crossed on the power laces in 2015.

    • Amanda

      Great points here Eric! +10 points to you for this genius comment: “…or how about being actually ABLE TO WEAR THEM? 10K for shoes they advise you not to wear?!?! That’s like paying five-star dinner prices for plastic food. Makes no damn sense.”

      • Eric

        Seriously, though…

        If they’re on a promotional kick for lame “Back to the Future” products, why doesn’t Ford put out a flying car…that doesn’t fly? Or reissue the AMC DeLorean. Only you won’t travel through time. And you’ll have to explain to the police officer who pulls you over at 88MPH that, “#$%^!!! I was going 88MPH!!! I’m supposed to be in the year 1885 right now!!!”

        I digress.

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    Nike could’ve really made a killing if they had released earlier or waited until 2015. Then again, introducing some non-power-lacing shoes into the market now will probably only decrease the demand and buzz for the power-lacing shoes IF they come out in 2015.

    I think that they might’ve missing the mark, but I believe that Nike knows what they’re doing…

    • Amanda

      I see what you’re saying here Mandy. I wonder if they’re trying to get two huge hits here. One, non powered pair now, and the second in 2015 when they actually are powered. Makes sense, but like you said, it will most likely keep people from buying the powered pair if they already spend 10K on the regular pair. I can imagine some famous rich people buying them though. Then it would be like a collector’s set. All I know is I certainly won’t ever have a pair. Even if super rich and famous, 10K for shoes, shoes! Whoa. Crazy to me. But hey, at least the money goes to a great cause. =)

  3. Tony Promo

    I don’t see how an opportunity was missed. The hypebeasts (guilty as charged) were all over this as soon as that teaser video was released on youtube the day before the auctions began, and word spread like wildfire WAAAAY beyond the sneaker community. Michael J. Fox himself was on Letterman and brought the shoes with him for awareness. I’m not sure how many tens of millions of dollars were raised, but I’m glad my dozen bids of $1,000 were instantaneously outbid, because the last thing I need is another pair of sneakers I’ll never wear. (these weren’t meant to be worn anyway)…

    I personally don’t see these being re-released in 2015 because of Tinker’s comments. BUT, you never know. You and I both know that Nike loves to beat a dead horse (Jordan retros). I’m still waiting for the Tiffany Dunks to be re-released, OR… if time travel is invented first, I’m going back to 2006 so I can warn myself to not sell those things on eBay! The $400 I made on them was nice at the time, but I would rather be wearing them to work right now!

  4. amy

    I completely agree with you Jeff 100%. While I commend them for giving away all of the profits to Micheal J. Fox’s charity, I think they could have created more buzz if they waited until either the technology existed or until 2015. If one pair fetched over $10,000 imagine if there had been more promotion for them? I heard the day of that they were being sold and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Did I miss the advertising??

    IF there’s a next time, I would highly suggest Nike be more patient and wait until the timing is just right, instead of just good enough. Great post Jeff!

  5. Rachel

    Totally agreed on all accounts! The timing of this really does baffle me. As you point out, it doesn’t coincide with any anniversary, it’s not 2015, and the laces aren’t what they’re supposed to be. So why now? My only guess is that they’re hoping to get money now and then more money a second time in 2015 (or some other future date) when the power laces work. Maybe the Michael J. Fox Foundation approached Nike for a fundraising idea, and this is what Nike came up with? Who knows.

    In any case, the shoes are pretty cool, and it’s an excuse to talk about Back to the Future. 🙂 Here’s hoping for a hoverboard next!

  6. Joseph Giorgi

    I’d have to agree with you on this. Nike probably could’ve done better. Announcing these shoes in tandem with the Blu-Ray release a couple months back would have been ideal. Definitely a missed opportunity there. Still, the fact that the MAGs are even seeing the light of day is nothing but a good thing.

    Can’t wait for those power laces in 2015 though! Let’s just pray that they’ll be priced for the general public. 😀

    • Blake Larson

      Couldn’t agree more with your final sentence. They probably won’t release them though. If they do, $300 at the least with the powered straps, lights, and to actually wear them. Even though we will probably not do that. It would be cool for people to wear them to let the world know that you own a pair and are happy too own one. Lol.

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