Nike's latest 3D billboard for celebrating its much-awaited “Air Max Day” has sparked controversy over its potential danger to motorists in Hangzhou, China.
Created by Japan-based creative agency Cekai, the 30-second animated video featured some of the brand’s most iconic Air Max models over the years. Along with lightning bolts, throbbing lights, robotic hands and other futuristic imagery, the placement highlighted the evolution of the brand’s shoe.
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Aside from the out-of-home activation, the global shoe brand held a pop-up in one of its physical stores in Shanghai, leaning onto the ‘bubble’ theme reminiscent of the material used in some of its Air Max models.
While the 3D billboard is a remarkable achievement in creative advertising, the increasing need for dramatic ads has raised safety concerns. Many worry that such advertisements are too distracting for motorists and could cause accidents on busy roads. This is particularly alarming in China, where there is a high number of road fatalities each year.
According to Carlos Barros, Director of Marketing at Epos Now, "we have to be mindful that while this kind of advertising may draw attention from passers-by on the street, they could potentially become distracted and pose a danger on the road.”
“We need to make sure that any creative campaigns are done so with consideration towards public safety precautions,” he added.
Marketing expert Kelly Chan added that "if the billboard causes cars to take their eyes off the road, it could endanger public safety."
Digital marketing expert Casey Jones also raised concerns, stating that "the only way to catch attention is to be more dramatic and that's not something safe for a billboard because it's highly distracting for people on the road and can cause accidents. The road is not the place for entertainment; brands should understand this."
Despite these concerns, Sarah Jameson, Green Building Element's Marketing Director, praised the ad's creative application of technology, stating that "this ad raises the bar in 3D billboards" and "may as well define the future of advertising."
Digital marketing consultant Olu Ajanwachuku also believes that integrating 3D and 4D billboards into advertising channels can guarantee a higher view, retention and conversion rate.
Beatriz Repiso, CEO of Otternative Marketing, acknowledged that the future of advertising will continue to push the boundaries of creativity and technology. However, she emphasized that "the responsibility for safe driving remains with each individual behind the wheel."
“Campaigns like Nike's 3D Air Max billboard will not only leave a lasting impression but also serve as a reminder of the importance of responsible driving in an increasingly dynamic advertising landscape,” Repiso added.
This is not the first time Nike celebrated Air Max Day with a 3D billboard.
Last year, Cekai also produced a 3D billboard for Nike Air Max Day, shown in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The advertisement featured customized versions of the Air Max 1 ‘86 ‘Big Bubble’ - one of Nike’s most popular models.
As technology continues to evolve and advertising becomes more sophisticated, advertisers and creative agencies need to consider the potential impact of their campaigns on public safety.
Overall, Nike's 3D billboard for Air Max Day has generated both excitement and concern. Advertising experts at DesignRush believe that with the right balance between creativity and safety, brands can create impactful advertising campaigns that capture attention without putting lives at risk.