I have been fortunate to manage some incredible projects and to partner with some amazing athletes and entertainers over my years in the industry. But one of my all-time favorite endeavors was the launching of the first Yeezy football cleat in the fall of 2016. It was a beautifully designed piece of footwear that emulated the wildly popular Kanye West sneaker that had taken the industry by storm a year prior on its way to being named Shoe of the Year by Footwear News.
Our team knew full well that the football cleat equivalent could be the biggest product introduction the sport had ever seen, and it didn’t disappoint. We launched the 750 version of the cleat by way of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller during the first game of the regular season, a Thursday Night Football affair between Miller’s Broncos and the team they beat the previous year in the Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers. This was the party every football fan had been waiting for since the final whistle blew ending the 2015–2016 season.
The instant Miller stepped onto the field (in pregame, no less) wearing the never-before-seen Yeezy cleats, Twitter blew up, as did the journalist community. Every news headline across both sports and culture outlets referenced Miller and his cleats. Thursday night was ours.
But we weren’t done. Three days later, we unveiled the Yeezy 350 Cleat on Adrian Peterson, Eric Berry, and DeAndre Hopkins. The headlines started flooding in once again, including SB Nation commemorating a milestone moment for the brand and one of its valued athlete partners: “Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins made history on Sunday when he scored the first touchdown of the season in a pair of Yeezy cleats from Rapper Kanye West.” Sunday was ours too.
We had dominated the conversation during the first week of the season by introducing a new, highly sought-after, and completely unexpected product during one of the biggest parties of the NFL regular season. First-looks are always of value to the media and to fans. The more often you are able to introduce a new idea during a key culture moment, the more likely you are to own the discussion.
A new product combined with a culture moment equaled another party crashed. Week one was ours.
EVENT: NFL Week One
MOMENT: Unveiling the First YEEZY Football Cleat
INFLUENCERS: Multiple NFL Athletes