We’ve all heard of Nike. They’re the #1 sports apparel brand in the world, a title they’ve held for seven consecutive years. It makes sense, given they spend over $3 billion in advertising a year. Nike’s marketing strategies are a force of nature. They have brand deals, sponsorships, and collaborations with all walks of life, including pro athletes, musicians, rappers, fashion designers, and social media influencers. What started as a small running shoe company has expanded into an empire that designs everything from lacrosse cleats to yoga attire. Still, something they didn’t have before, something that makes you wonder what took so long to create, is a shoe designed specifically for dancers.   

You’re probably thinking, can’t hip-hoppers use any sneaker to dance? You’re not wrong; they can – and have been for ages! But, never has there been a shoe specifically designed for dancers by a top brand like Nike. Typically, a company creates a shoe, then it’s sold, and dancers gravitate toward the ideal ones. However, for the Nike Air Sesh, the process was reversed. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, these performance sneakers were built to solve many dancers’ problems with shoes. They were carefully assembled to provide the ability to slide and glide while offering proper traction when needed and were given a flexible midsole that easily adapts to a dancer’s movement. The shoe’s purpose is to help dancers practice and perform their best.  

So how did Nike decide to market this game-changer of a sneaker? By collaborating with one of LA’s top hip-hop crews, the Kinjaz. The Kinjaz started in 2010 and gradually rose to stardom by 2014. They are made up of highly skilled hip-hoppers and choreographers and include members from other legendary groups such as the Jabbawockeez and Mos Wanted. They’ve competed in reputable competitions such as America’s Best Dance Crew and are the face of what now is considered an empire that represents dance, art, and family.   

Nike’s strategy here is clear — get one of the most renowned and influential dance teams to endorse their sneaker — and it’s brilliant. Who better to judge a shoe designed for dance than one of the most successful hip-hop crews in America? And their strategy doesn’t end there. Nike could have chosen any well-known dance crew to partner with, but their decision to work with the Kinjaz was more than likely premeditated. The Kinjaz are known to honor family and unity at all costs. Member and founder Anthony Lee states, “Our shared objective is to cultivate ‘kin at all costs, to support and elevate each other to reach our highest collective potential.” These ideas appeal to dancers and non-dancers alike, opening a larger consumer pool for the Nike Air Sesh. Likewise, these values seem to perfectly align with Nike’s, making this collab compatible and effortless.   

On Nike’s website, you’ll find an entire article explaining who the Kinjaz are and what they represent, along with footage of the team dancing and rocking the Nike Air Sesh. Videos and images have circulated online and across every social media platform, promoting the partnership. Overall, this campaign represents Nike’s thoughtful and diplomatic approach to marketing, and validates its rank as the #1 sports apparel brand in the world.