Though sneaker brands have long championed the art of “unboxing” — posting videos on social media of buzzy new products as they’re unwrapped from packaging — they are now taking the practice to the next level by adding augmented reality.
In advance of the launch of its new “Deerupt” shoe on Thursday, Adidas Originals developed an AR experience that gave consumers an inside look at the product. The program is platform agnostic, meaning users are not required to download a separate app to view the AR unboxing. Instead, by clicking a link on desktop or a mobile device, a virtual “box” will appear that opens to reveal the shoe. Users can then examine the product from all angles using their cursor or fingertip to move the item on the screen. While there is no direct link to buy the product on the AR site, users can opt to continue to the Adidas website to purchase a pair.
“Up until now, something like this could have only been done through a larger platform or app,” Silvia Calligher, global director, brand communications PR and social at Adidas Originals, said in a statement. “We challenged ourselves to break this barrier and prove this could be done anywhere. Similar to how Deerupt conforms to its wearer, the experience conforms to the user.”
As the streetwear industry grows increasingly competitive, it’s become incumbent on brands to keep up with the hype by experimenting with new methods of dropping products. The customer base is used to receiving secret codes or waiting in lengthy lines at the crack of dawn to access new sneakers, and keeping them engaged is key to driving sales. Deerupt points to AR as the next frontier for product drops, after brands like Nike and Adidas tested efforts like app-based exclusives and third-party services, like Shopify-streamlined product drops on mobile using the concept of a geo-targeted flash sale.
By focusing on the practice of unboxing, Harry Bee — founder and chief creative officer of Annex88, the digital agency that worked with Adidas Originals on the AR program — said the intention was to democratize an experience that is traditionally exclusive to a select few.
“The actual act of unboxing is a singular, personal experience, but one that is too often only for the luckiest of the lucky who have been able to get the shoe at its release,” Bee said. “We know sneaker unboxings drive hype through their popularity on YouTube and Instagram, and knew if we could tap into this culture in an interesting way, it would create the excitement we were looking for around Deerupt.”
To bolster the buzz, the team also tapped the help of model Kendall Jenner and select sneaker influencers. Adidas Originals mailed them what appeared to be a regular shoebox, however inside was just a QR code that directed them to the unboxing site. The influencers subsequently posted it on social media to direct consumers to the link in the weeks leading up to the launch.
The virtual site is modeled after the grid-based aesthetic of the sneaker, which Adidas Originals said was inspired by New York City’s grid system. Discussion over the effort first began in fall 2017, when advancements in virtual technology spurred an idea to use it to debut the Deerupt shoe, then in its nascent stages of design.
While the brand didn’t share engagement numbers, since the site went live earlier this March, it has experienced “impressive” duration times on the site.
“We’re always challenging ourselves to take risks to innovate on how we communicate with our consumers,” Bee said. “We recognize that to be the first in anything involves a certain degree of trial and error, but we’re always up for the challenge in our continued pursuit of innovation,” he said.