A/R Jordan


The Brief
How do we bring Michael Jordan’s prowess on court to life in a way that would connect with basketball’s teenage fans?

The Solve
We celebrated the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan’s infamous free throw line dunk by partnering up Jordan brand with Snapchat to create the first shoe drop to happen through A/R during the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend. For the live event in LA, we worked with Shopify to fulfill purchases and Dark Store to get the “Air Jordan III Free Throw Line” into the hands of fans within 2 hours after purchase.

The A/R Jordan project can be broken down into the following:

  1. Launch event in Los Angeles, CA
    How does the A/R experience unveil itself in a way that makes it relevant to the location in which it launches?
  2. A/R Jordan Snapchat Lens
    How does it scale beyond the launch event?
  3. The shopping experience
    How does a fan purchase product through A/R?

Launch Event in LA

For the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend, we wanted to teleport fans back to 1988, the year of Jordan’s historic dunk from the free throw line. We had a basketball court in Downtown LA, a pile of exclusive AJ3s and an A/R concept that would be powered by Snapchat, all at our disposal. We also had a 3D model of Jordan mid-dunk.

We originally designed two methods for implementing the A/R Jordan experience, each with their own set of pros and cons.

  1. A/R Jordan as a Fixed Geolocated Experience
    Fans could only see A/R Jordan in one fixed location (at some point between the foul line and the basketball net) similar to the collaboration that Jeff Coons did with Snapchat.
  2. A/R Jordan as a Snapchat Lens
    Fans could invoke A/R Jordan anywhere, on or off court.

A/R Jordan as a Fixed Geolocated Experience

This was our recommended experience, to have A/R Jordan happen in context of a basketball court. This would truly showcase the feat that was accomplished by Michael Jordan 30 years ago.

How It Worked
As fans made their way onto the court, they would receive a push notification introducing them to the A/R Jordan experience. Through the A/R Jordan Snapchat Lens, the fan would then be directed to the exact location on the court where they would bear witness to his Airness, 5ft off the ground between foul line and rim, ready to lay down the most talked about dunk in NBA history.

Experience Overview for Geolocated A/R Jordan

Sound Thinking
To further immerse fans into the moment, we wanted to include sound. As fans entered the court, ambient cheers could be heard. As fans got closer to the foul line and to A/R Jordan himself, the sound of announcers prepping spectators for MJ’s dunk would chime into the foreground.

The audio changes as fans get closer to A/R Jordan.

Unfortunately, due to file size constraints with Snapchat Lens, we weren’t able to integrate sound into the experience. Luckily, I was able to simulate what that experience would be like through some light hacking.

Scaling Beyond the Court
A geolocated experience was impossible to scale beyond the basketball court itself making this approach a pipe dream. Fortunately, we had another solve that accommodated a greater audience.

A/R Jordan as a Snapchat Lens

To make A/R Jordan scalable, we went with A/R Jordan as a Snapchat Lens that most people are already familiar with. Open the Jordan Lens and A/R Jordan appears in front of you.

Designing for Basketball Court First
To help inform our design decisions on how A/R Jordan would appear on initial load, we based it on how it would have looked if we were standing at the foul line where he lifted off.

At the event itself, a Snapcode would be pasted on the foul line alongside with the historic date. It was an invitation to time travel back to 1988. Snapping the code would bring up the A/R Jordan Lens, which would then reveal Jordan himself with his backside facing you.

Snapcode at the Foul Line.

A/R Problems
The problem with this approach was because since A/R Jordan was in the air, fans had to point their phone upwards. In doing so, the phone would no longer be able to register the ground, which would mean that as you panned around Jordan with your phone facing upwards, the A/R model would move in parallel with your phone rendering this approach unusable.

The Final Attempt 

Since panning was going to be a problem, we settled for the most iconic angle of Jordan when loading up the A/R Jordan Lens. With tongue out, both feet over 4ft off the ground and the A/R model just a few feet away from the viewer, we were able to show off the magnitude of the dunk whether it was viewed on court or at home.

The dunk seen around the world.

A/R Jordan as seen in Snapchat.

Shopping in A/R

In early 2018, purchasing product through a Snapchat Lens was not possible, but we still pushed for it to be integrated into the A/R Jordan Lens. Here were some of the suggested flows that required fans to snap and share a photo in order to get access to product.

This option required fans to snap and share their photo/video in order to get access to product.

This option reduced the number of steps required to get product, but still required fans to share their snap.

Since building additional e-commerce functionality into Snapchat would require a lot more time and more importantly, time was running out for this project, we decided to go with a separate Snapcode that fans would snap in order to get product at the event.

A few months after the A/R Jordan launch, Snapchat announced that they now let advertisers sell products through their Lenses. How convenient.

Wrapping Up

This was our first A/R project and we ran into a bunch of technical/design issues throughout the design process. What got us across the finish line in time for the NBA All-Star Weekend was a strong concept backed by an experience that was closely tied to the narrative. This prevented the project from spinning and just in a couple of months, our team went from pitching to executing to celebrating the sneaker drop in Los Angeles with hundreds of fans in attendance. We’d also like to think that this project inspired others in the following months. We were flattered. 😉

R/GA Team

  • Benjamin Williams / VP, Executive Creative Director
  • Gabriel Cheung / Creative Director (Visual Design)
  • Gene Lu / Creative Director (Experience Design)
  • Harry Peacham / Strategy Director
  • Anna Sposito / Sr. Producer
  • Ricky Vega / Executive Producer
  • Sam Levy / Group Account Director