I remember about the time I first saw this ad. I was in third grade, which by my estimation is far to early to start obsessing over material items like sneakers, but I had already developed a love affair with the Nike Air Zoom flight, the first shoe I ever loved. I recall flipping through a magazine, a Sports Illustrated more than likely, and coming across an image that at that moment I knew would alter the course of my life (heavy thoughts for a 9 year old, I know). The beautiful contrasting white mesh and black patent leather, complimented by the icy clear and concord bottoms, all there on the page in one mesmerizing ensemble staring me right in the face.
The real beauty of the ad is the lack of words; even then I understood that. This was a shoe that so superior in terms of aesthetic design that it spoke entirely for itself. It’s sporty and dressy, its Michael Jordan on and off the court, it’s business and pleasure, all that is conveyed within the first seconds of viewing the page.
Any sort of copy would distract from the clear message the image alone communicates; this is a beautiful fucking shoe. The very faint and mysterious phone number at the bottom is small enough that it doesn’t take away from the shoe and if I recall correctly, the number leads to a message providing more info to curious consumers (I easily called the number over 50 times)(an early version of a QR code).
I remember wanting a pair of these shoes more than I had ever wanted anything in my life, including the Ninja Turtles skateboard I had received for my birthday the year before. Shortly after seeing this ad, I was subjected to the accompanying back-of-a-comic-book style prints and the wonderful commercials that only added to my insatiable desire to own a pair of these shoes.
Eventually I got a pair, then another, and another, then two more, remembering the feeling I had when I stared at the print ads in magazines as a young elementary school kid, each time I put them on. This ad was not only the foundation for my lifelong appreciation for sneakers, but also my lifelong appreciation for advertising; I don’t know if I should thank the writer, or damn him to hell.