Airwalk Augments NYC and LA With ‘Invisible’ Pop-Up Stores

airwalkTo promote the return of the so-called Jim shoe it launched 20 years ago, Airwalk used an augmented reality app from startup GoldRun to launch invisible pop-up stores in New York and LA on November 6.

The invisible stores were a way to reward loyal customers, but, as the company notes, they were also fun and, perhaps most importantly, exclusive — all of which align with the Airwalk brand and the limited edition shoes available through the promotion.

To access the invisible stores, customers downloaded GoldRun’s app, which is available for iPhone 3G or higher, and went to Venice Beach in Los Angeles and Washington Square Park in New York. There, they captured virtual shoes that were GPS-linked to both locations.

“It (was) basically a store that doesn’t exist. It only (existed) on your phone through augmented reality,” says Kerry Keenan, executive director for creative content at Young & Rubicam, which worked with Airwalk on the campaign.

Users who located the virtual shoes on their phones were then taken to the Airwalk e-commerce site and given a pass code link to complete purchase of either the ladies’ shoe in red plastic or the men’s tennis shoe, which, as the name implies, looks like a tennis ball.

Airwalk was founded in 1986 in Southern California, which is why the company chose Venice, says Eric Dreyer, vice president of brand management for collective licensing international.

“Over time, however, the brand has evolved into this broader, youth brand with really great ties to streetwear, music and design. That aspect of the brand is what led us to Washington Square Park,” he adds.

According to Airwalk, the original Jim was launched in the early 1990s as “an ode to the most loved/hated school activities of all time, gym class.”

Keenan explains, “It’s an anti-gym shoe worn by students who skip gym and instead go to skate parks.”

A total of 300 pairs of shoes were produced for the promotion. The Airwalk site says the shoes, which run from $80 to $90, are available for delivery November 15. It was not immediately clear how many people participated in the promotion, but the limited edition shoes were still available for purchase on the site as of Wednesday.

Keenan also said Airwalk’s e-commerce site had the most traffic it had ever had, but she did not have specific figures or know how long the site had been running.

Airwalk also didn’t have a huge budget to promote the limited edition launch, Keenan says. The invisible store via augmented reality app was therefore a good way for Airwalk to target men and women 18 to 26.

Keenan says the campaign was also “sort of a hit” with men and women in their early 30s “because they’re the ones who remember (the shoes) from the first launch.”

It was also attractive to tech people who wanted to see how this worked, she added.

Airwalk advertised the promotion on sneaker, tech and fashion sites like Sneaker Freak and PSFK, Keenan says.

Airwalk may consider additional locations, depending on the success of this venture, Dreyer says.

For its part, GoldRun has also powered a user-controlled, virtual catwalk for clothing retailer H&M and says it will be launching additional promotions with, Esquire magazine and Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers fragrance line.

Related reading