Nike got a half million dollars of advertising at the Oscars for the price of a pair of sneakers

Seth Rogen, Michael J. Fox, and the Nike Mags take the stage at the Oscars.
Seth Rogen, Michael J. Fox, and the Nike Mags take the stage at the Oscars.
Image: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
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Along with Moonlight, one of the unexpected winners at the Oscars last night (Feb. 27) was Nike, after a pair of the company’s sneakers got a star turn in one of the award ceremony’s big set pieces.

That brief appearance on stage during the globally televised event was worth more than half a million dollars in publicity, according to Apex Marketing Group. Its estimate, pegged at $583,000, is based on various factors, including time on screen and the $2.5 million that television network ABC charged for a 30-second spot during the event, and all Nike had to do was offer up the sneakers.

The shoes got the spotlight following a prerecorded clip of actor Seth Rogen talking about how Back To The Future for him was “the baseline of classic cinema.” Rogen and Michael J. Fox, the star of the 1985 movie, emerged live on stage from a DeLorean, the car rigged up for time travel in the film. On his feet, Rogen wore a pair of the “power-lacing” Nike Mag sneakers first dreamed up for the sequel, Back To The Future II. Nike spent more than a decade actually developing the shoes until it finally raffled off a limited number in late 2016.

While Fox and Rogen remained on stage to present awards, the camera got a couple very good looks at Rogen’s Nike Mags, which was key to the estimated brand value that Nike derived from the event.

“We have to see the logo clear and in focus,” explains Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group. Other than that, Apex weighs variables such as where it appears in the frame, who is wearing it (the star of the scene or someone in the background, for instance), and whether it’s mentioned by name.

Smallwood says the Nike nod is similar to the other forms of product placement his firm analyzes, except in those cases companies usually pay to get their product on camera. A Nike spokesperson confirms that the company provided Rogen with a pair of the sneakers at his request—a prototype since all the consumer versions had been raffled already—and that was all.

In a case like this, Nike gains brand awareness—even if it’s not exactly lacking it at this point—and a high-profile moment of a celebrity fawning over its highly sought-after product. “I’m at the Oscars with Michael J. Fox, a DeLorean, while wearing future-shoes,” said Rogen.

“He gave Nike credence on one of the biggest shows of the year,” Smallwood says. And “future shoes” is exactly how Nike, which promotes itself as an innovation company, wants people to remember its sneakers.