Customized Air Max designs are dropped at life in AKQA's AR expertise for Nike Japan

The Air Max shoe from Nike has achieved cult status since its launch in 1987. It was designed by Tinker Hatfield and inspired by the Pompidou center in Paris. It was the first Nike shoe with visible air pockets in the sole – and became one of the brand's most successful and well-known sneakers of all time.

AKQA's new project for Nike Japan invites Air Max fans to develop the legendary product with an AR-enabled zine that allows them to create and edit custom 3D designs in real time.

The zine contains a series of black and white outline illustrations that can be scanned with a smartphone to generate an AR model that hovers over the page. When users color the images on paper, the model changes based on their graphics.

Once users have customized the shoe, they can add their signature to the design and create an animation that can be shared on their social channels.

The zine also includes a selection of designs submitted by creatives in Tokyo before the project started, as well as interviews with them. The release was released this week and 1,000 copies were distributed to Nike stores across Japan.

The project was developed as an alternative way to bring people together without events (including the Tokyo Olympics). "The idea came from the circumstances of Covid-19, which made people largely isolated and unable to come together as before, but also looked for new ways to explore and express their creativity," says AKQA.

AR campaigns often feel chunky and complicated. By combining an AR tool with a printed coloring book, AKQA and Nike Japan have achieved a playful and user-friendly experience. The zine also takes up the cult status of the shoe and gives fans a limited collector's item that they can keep.

While the zine was designed as a standalone experience (it is not connected to Nike's iD feature, which allows users to create and buy personalized designs online), it is an interesting example of how retailers can use AR to make it fun and enjoyable Offer engaging personalized service – one that goes beyond choosing color options or patterns from a drop-down list.