Nike and Tiffany & Co.’s latest teaser has sent social media users into a frenzy. The brand officially released a statement saying that it will be launching its co-branded merchandise on 7 March 2023 with the star of the show being the Nike x Tiffany & Co. Air Force 1.
Crafted in premium black suede and featuring a Tiffany Blue swoosh, the shoes mark a continued celebration of the Air Force 1’s 40th anniversary and is the first partnership for the brands. Alongside the shoes, Tiffany & Co. will be releasing a collection of limited-edition sterling silver products. The co-branded designs include a sterling silver whistle, shoehorn, shoe brush and a dubrae for the Nike x Tiffany & Co. Air Force 1 1837 laces.
The sneak initial peek was posted on both Tiffany and Nike’s social media accounts, including Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, showing a Tiffany blue shoe box with a Nike swoosh that read, “A legendary pair”. The post drew plenty of positive comments and a check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE revealed that many consumers were excited to see the final product.
However, there were just as many consumers who questioned the collaboration, arguing that Tiffany & Co. does not align with Nike as a company.
According to a spokesperson at Meltwater, 12.6% of the social and editorial content surrounding the collaboration was negative with 8.8% positive and 78.6% who were neutral.
According to industry professionals MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to, the partnership is likely a signal that both brands are looking to level up and reach out to new consumers. Given that disruption is the new name of the game, the partnership is highly advantageous despite its apparent disconnect.
“The brands are clearly sending out a message to challenge consumer perceptions and to unleash its limitless potential in the market,” said Anson Shum, the vice president of marketing at retail brand SAUVEREIGN. “Both are iconic American labels and I see some sort of hidden adjacency there with their tagline ‘A Legendary Pair’,” said Shum.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees that this was a good move on the part of both brands. “In the last few years, we’ve seen so many luxury brands cave and dip into the street and sneaker market, perhaps this was Tiffany’s way in - or more so, just an elicit effort to keep people talking,” said Robert Gaxiola, the head of creative, SEA and India at Ampverse.
He added that the partnership is “not an obvious fit at all” because both brands are on different sides of the street - but this is the attraction for many of us.
“It is an instant collector’s item. Classic collaborations for Tiffany & Co. include a rare, co-signed Tiffany & Co. GMTmaster Rolex. But this Nike collaboration is quite a different beast, and I think that’s the point,” Gaxiola noted.
Agreeing with Gaxiola, CEO of Dragon Rouge Asia, Zayn Khan said he too doesn’t feel the two to have a natural fit given the brand values are extremely different.
“It feels more like a forced partnership to one-up Adidas than a genuine marriage of complements. Sometimes partnerships between perceived opposites work (for example Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama) - a sort of alchemy occurs where both brands gain fresh street creds and relevance. This one just feels like a Tinder date gone wrong,” Khan added.
And for the king of sneaker collaborations, this partnership with Tiffany isn’t anything special, according to Maximilian Wang, global head of marketing and digital at SAU LEE. Rather just a way to maintain equity through yet another event in an ongoing branding calendar, he said. "It's just headlines and hype in place of having something more impressive cooking in the kitchen."
He added that sneakerheads et al aren’t against this collaboration because of any mismatch in brand values, "Rather, it’s just a combination of laziness and bad timing. And since we’ve already had the Nike SB Dunk by Low Diamond Supply Co, even though that was not an official collaboration with Tiffany, perhaps people want to see something more, something different," he added.
Revenue wise – potentially a lucrative move?
Besides the collaboration being simply a good form of viral marketing, it would appear that Nike and Tiffany & Co. might have a long-term strategy in place as well as they seek to elevate its brands.
Shum added that the pricing of the capsule collection is still somewhat affordable considering the lucrative resale value, so there is clearly a well thought out sales strategy that leverages the hunger of the marketing tactic. He added that it was time for the luxury and fashion world to have a little more fun.
Gian Chan, the associate director of Sanrio Global agreed by saying that the collaboration will help increase Tiffany & Co.’s market and reach in the sports market and that it is advantageous for Nike to bring their sports brand into the iconic and luxurious Tiffany world.
Ambrish Chaudhry, the managing director, Singapore, India and Indonesia, of branding agency Superunion added that athleisure is probably the key driver of Nike’s share prices after it almost doubled in the last five years.
“Increasingly, Nike is taking on the tenor of a luxury brand. Calibrated scarcity with limited edition drops, much talked about partnerships, an almost reverential focus on iconic models of the past - all these strategies fit well in the best of luxury marketing playbooks,” he shared.
“The Tiffany collaboration - and let's face it, it's likely going to sell out in minutes - further cements the brand's luxury credentials,” he said.
On the flip side; Tiffany has been undergoing a massive brand makeover ever since the LVMH acquisition. Chaudhry added:
If any company understands how to make a fading brand relevant again it is LVMH.
“With Jay Z and Beyonce as endorsers and bold marketing campaigns, Tiffany is trying hard to prove that it is indeed not your mother's Tiffany. This collaboration only further highlights that point. And it's brought the brand back into the conversation again,” he added.
What makes for a great partnership?
In fact, Tiffany & Co. has also worked with brands such as Supreme, Patek Philippe, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, and Pharrell as well. “It seems to me that it is a long-term strategy of Tiffany & Co, or maybe LVMH group as a whole, to pick the strongest from different fields to work with them,” said Samson Fong, the former head of marketing at Zenyum.
“It’s a step up, moving from collaborations with traditional intellectual properties (IPs) to now super brand partners with the x-factor, delivering a refreshed product with extreme rarity and, at the same time, enjoying the eyeballs from fans of both brands,” said Fong
He added that when it comes to Nike, the collaboration only serves to prove that rocketing sneaker prices on sneaker websites are beyond just hype and that the market is really that eager for it. “For Tiffany, I assume they are no longer viewed as just luxury items that men gift their partners, but also as something guys are craving for themselves. Beyond luxury, Tiffany is now also geared up to be the next top street brand and is hotly searched on Hypebeast or StockX,” he noted.
Speaking of a wider perspective, consumer brands in general have already lost bit of their soul when they started down this rabbit hole of purposeless crossovers, according to SAU LEE's Wang. "Consumers are fatigued. We saw so many collaborations, a few that were game-changers, some that should never have happened, and so many that were unnecessary. So now that we’re entering this post-covid era, brands ought to think more about their intent: what is the purpose, who is the audience, what is the value created — all of which feeds why anyone should care, let alone buy into it," he added.
"The time for collaborations isn’t over, however, consumers have much higher expectations. It was a much different time back when there was a real insatiable hunger for it, which is why Dior x Air Jordan 1 was a huge success. But now? It’s about surprise, thoughtfulness, and creativity," said Wang.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Tiffany & Co. for a statement.
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