The Story Behind Nike’s Incredible Air Max 3-D Billboard In Japan

Muse spoke with Nike Japan about celebrating Air Max Day, doing something different in 3-D OOH, and that Shinjuku Cat appearance.

Muse: Who created the ad?

Nanaka Sakurai, Studio Manager and Producer, Nike Japan: This project was a collaboration between the Nike Tokyo brand creative studio and the CEKAI creative collective. Kota Iguchi, a driving force in Tokyo’s creative community and the founder of CEKAI, produced the motion graphics in partnership with our brand creative team.

Tell me about how it was made. How long did it take?

Danny Demers, Creative Director, Nike Japan: The team started exploring the possibilities of creating something for this emerging medium in late 2021. From when we set our goal of launching creation on Air Max Day , it took about two months to create, program and test the animation of this 3D OOH. Simultaneously, we were also creating our holistic Air Max Day plan for sneaker lovers in Tokyo.

Were there any challenges? What was the overall goal?

Yoshio Kato, Designer, Nike Japan: Working with any new medium can be challenging for any brand or creative team. To ease the learning curve, we relied on different expertise within our team and with our partners to better understand the medium and the opportunity.

Danny Demers: We understood that the impact of 3D billboards is not only physical in Tokyo, but digitally all over the world. With that in mind, we set out to create something that could have as much of an impact on the street in Shinjuku as it does on your phone in New York.

Did you know you would be using the Shinjuku space when the proposal was submitted?

Julie Igarashi, Creative Director, Nike Japan: As a brand, we always strive for innovation, in our products and in our communication. As soon as the proposal to use this new medium on the Shinjuku site was communicated to us, we jumped at the chance to explore what was possible for our consumers.

Have you always planned to integrate the Shinjuku cat in the creation?

Yoshio Kato: This Shinjuku cat is now a landmark, and we couldn’t miss the opportunity to salute this tribute in our creation and also celebrate our partnership with this new medium. More than 200,000 people pass through this crossroads every day. The impact of the placement drew reactions from a wide range of people, and it was amazing to see how much excitement this creation for Air Max created.

Can you give us a brief history of the Nike Air Max Day and its importance?

Julie Igarashi: Air Max Day is our annual celebration of one of our most important innovations: Nike Air. This moment allows us to share with consumers what Air means to us and to hear from them how it is now part of their lives. Listening to our consumers every year right now, we try to come back the following year and surprise them with experiences that are exciting, imaginative and meaningful.

How important was it to use and create something with this new technology?

Danny Demers: Nike Air is a celebration of creativity, imagination and innovation. We wanted to convey these elements through technology aligned with this revolutionary spirit that would inspire excitement among sneaker fans and passers-by.

Aside from the billboard, what happens on Air Max Day?

Nanaka Sakurai: We will support the entire building and host experiences to connect the OG sneaker community in Tokyo with the next generation. Along with the 3D billboard, the building is also currently shrouded in a giant stack of iconic Nike shoe boxes.

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