New Billboard Promotion Is Activated by Mobile Phones

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NEW YORK ( -- In its customary way of going for ever bigger and more different promotions, Nike has purchased a build-your-own-shoe media placement on the 23-story-high Reuters sign on the Reuters Building in Times Square.
The Nike build-a-shoe sign on the Reuters building in Times Square. Click to see larger photo.

Real-time designing
The promotion, which is part of the sports apparel giant's NikeID campaign, lets passersby with a cell phone to call a toll-free number to access the technology and use the dial pad to choose aspects of a sneaker they prefer and build it in real time on the sign. After first picking out the colors of the laces, swoosh, uppers and mid-sole of the sport shoe and then customizing it with initials or other personal tags, the consumer is sent an SMS message with a picture of the personalized shoe and the Web address ( where it can be purchased. The technology is available between noon and 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

"The more you allow people to stop what they are doing and interact with a brand, the better it's going to be," said John Mayo-Smith, vice president of technology at R/GA, the interactive agency that handled the campaign. "But just as important, the people who are watching the sign are getting a brand experience, too."

Nike would not comment for this story.

Midtown marketing
"It fits in well with the other kinds of marketing that go on in that part of Manhattan," such as the Today Show's live broadcasts from Rockefeller Center, visible to all who pass, said Joe Wilcox, senior analyst at online market research firm Jupiter Research.

The effort also makes good use of proven technologies, he pointed out, like using a mobile phone to make a call and the key pad to design the shoe. "Too often there's this newfangled approach to emerging technology, and people try to use what doesn't really work well."

The campaign debuted last Monday., which sells space on the sign, did not have results data, but the news service said that 1.5 million people see the sign every day.

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