The sneaker industry is highly saturated with fakes and one-time flippers looking to cash in on the culture; the annual turnover of this imitation trade in 2019 was believed to be $1.2B. As a result, dedicated sneaker lovers are being priced out left, right, and center because they can’t keep up with this stock-like market. This is where our live eBay sneaker event came in.
Our client, the e-commerce marketplace eBay, wanted to authentically engage the most passionate tier of the UK's sneakerhead community. As well as aiming to tap into the most passionate network of sneakerheads, we wanted to raise awareness of eBay's Authentication Guarantee, which entitles any pair of trainers worth over £100 to be fully vetted and verified. As there’s stiff industry competition, we were briefed to educate on this specialist service to help eBay achieve a bigger slice of the resell pie. So, how better to drive awareness than to drive it to them? Literally…
We decided to surprise and delight the community with a live activation, which further established eBay as a trusted platform for buyers and sellers everywhere. An influencer-first hybrid of social campaign and experiential event, the Sneaker Van acted as a mobile hub for free, live sneaker vetting with eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee. Our campaign drove simultaneous engagement across platforms, championing community voices every step of the way. At a snapshot, we reached 20.2M, with a 15% ER.
The Nerdy Stuff
Drilling into the data, we targeted UK cities with the highest footfall at sneaker events. Coupling this with the insight that, after months of lockdown policies, the community was thirsty for an in-person experience, we worked with local councils to license the ultimate influencer pop-up event for sneaker enthusiasts.
We drove up to local crep hotspots within London, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, and Nottingham to bring eBay’s Authenticity Guaranteed service to life. Tapping into the nostalgia aesthetic at the heart of this community, which Complex describes as the most powerful marketing tool for sneaker selling, we pimped out a retro ice cream van and hit the road. This let us turn up authentically, in person and in line with local pandemic guidelines.
The Fun Stuff
To stay faithful to the community, we partnered with sneakerhead creatives to craft an authentic tone and aesthetic for this meet up. For example, we collaborated with illustrators and designers who were part of and followed by the community to pimp out our retro ice cream van. They also designed uniforms for our on-site brand representatives and authenticators, and crafted promotional assets like flyers, posters, and even the (vegan) ice lolly packaging. Local sneakerhead DJs performed sets, and influencers were contracted to share the message both in-person and online. With scroll-stopping assets, the influencers would shout out to the next location the van would be pulling up in. This ensured we kept the community on their toes about where we’d be rolling up, and it helped drive hype for the next location.
The Hard Stuff
Earning trust within the market was difficult; first off, the industry is at a high saturation point, and secondly, we were rolling up to these communities in-person — we had to do it right.
Sourcing the perfect sellers was also an issue; in striving for authenticity, we had to dig deep for people that fell under the radar of traditional social channels. Tapping up Connects’ hive mind of industry experts and contacts allowed us to sift through the rubble and find some gems via Discord.
In light of the pandemic, local government guidance was changing daily, so securing licensing was harder than ever. This meant we had to formulate plan Bs (and Cs and Ds) for every location and supplier. On the flip side, these regulations meant our event had to be outdoors, and the public were not only ready, but desperate for a live experience like this post-lockdown.
Going on tour raised awareness and trust for eBay’s service. Showing up in style (and uniform, as well as the hottest sneakers) positioned eBay as an innovator with personality, experience, and genuine credibility in the sneaker arena. This highlighted eBay as a people-first platform that was well rounded with expert intel.
Plus, partnering with sneakerhead creatives throughout the event ensured we gave back to the community, while elevating the message of eBay’s service to buyers, sellers, and everyone in between.
As a credit to the eBay Sneaker tour success, we managed to unlock further client opportunities to build upon this campaign. For example, our new YouTube mini-series with Kurupt FM x eBay has allowed us to fully flex our in-house production team along with our influencer specialism.