The half truth behind a $10 billion brand

In 1985 after getting a glimpse at the new Nike Air Jordan 1 in all their emphatic red, NBA commissioner David Stern warned Nike he would ban Jordan from wearing them. Only white shoes were allowed.

The risk for Nike was having to pay $5,000 for every game Jordan would step into those shoes.

They decided to risk it and if necessary, pay the fines. How they took advantage of the situation was even more interesting.

The “banned” shoes commercial was born:

“On September 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them. Air Jordans from Nike.”

There’s no actual proof of Jordan wearing the shoes in games that season, nor that the ban actually happened, but the idea was genius. And it sold 50k pairs almost instantly.

Some of the best ideas often come from connecting the dots and weaving storytelling in the mix.