Several times on Twitter I received an ad that stopped my scrolling thumb in the middle of the movement. Offered for sale is a pair of Nike sneakers so bulbous, so obnoxious, that it defies all logic to sell them, let alone offer them with an ongoing paid promotion.

I’m forced to conclude at this point that the ad is intentionally misleading and is there to pierce shoe awareness among the masses via some sort of reverse psychology. I never think about Nike shoes, and now I think about it All the time.

Curious to see the reactions to these horror shoes (Nike Air Max Vivas for Women, to be precise), as I imagine others are as well, I often click to see what people are saying every time. ad appears on my feed. The features of the ad the ratio effect, with thousands of comments compared to retweets and likes (at the moment there are over 3k comments, 1k retweets and 2.6k “likes”). As Dictionary.com defines being proportionate, “it means people object to the tweet and deem its content bad.”

Amid the sarcastic and confusing responses the sneakers generate on Twitter, however, there are still several users who point out that the image is actually optimized to be as unappealing as possible. If you look at the same shoes for sale on the Nike website, they’re not that weird – in fact, they might even be normal!

But in the ad, they’re photographed with a fish-eye lens which dramatically distorts their proportions and leaves them to look, as one person perfectly noted, “like a dog that accidentally ate a bee.”

Nike, a world famous brand with a valuation of $ 34 billion, can more than afford the best photography and advertising services. They are, in fact, famous for their commercials which made them such a household name in the first place. Are there many more well-known slogans than “Just Do It” or instantly recognizable symbols than the Nike swoop? There’s no.

And so I can’t imagine anything being promoted under the Nike name that hasn’t been scrupulously designed and tested and maybe even grouped together. This is what makes the terrible and strange photo chosen for these shoes so intriguing. Was there an ad sales meeting where the speech was, “Okay guys stay with me here but what if we make the shoes absolutely horrible for social media?”

At this point, I cannot draw any conclusion other than that the ad was deliberately designed to elicit a dismissive reaction. So dismissive, in fact, that you end up reading Twitter responses, retweeting them with “WTF” (there are over 900 quote Tweets from the original, mostly expressing horror), and thinking of those sneakers in the darkness of the night when trying to fall asleep.

If an error occurred and a wrong image was accidentally used for the first time for the ad, it would have been quickly deleted. Instead, I keep seeing this promotion in my Twitter feed, where it surely has significant ad spend to fuel it. The initial Tweet was made in March and is still in full swing. Does anyone look at the interaction numbers at Nike HQ and whispers, “Yes, no more fisheye lenses” even as we speak?

Good ads can be witty or silly or feature famous people or talking frogs, but it’s hard for me to recall another instance where it seems like the product for sale is being purposely portrayed in a negative light for the sake of it. ‘commitment. And so I have to take my cap off at Nike for this one. That knee-jerk reaction of contempt and bewilderment has now evolved into a place where I find myself saying, “What if I own the fisheye shoes?” So what?

If the purpose of an ad is to let you know about a product, that’s more than successful. And he’s probably also selling sneakers or other pairs on Nike’s website when the morbid curious clicks.

I’m not the only one who finds myself both repelled by shoes and yet – and yet.

While the shoes have repelled some of them, they also have their established fans:

And although this is a common feeling –

Something about the tactic definitely works. The pair featured in the ad, in the shade not so succinctly listed as ‘Black / Dark Citron / Green Abyss / Plum Dust’, is sold out in most sizes, unlike the majority of other sneaker colors.

Indeed, the marketing being “off” seems be the point, and I can’t help but be mesmerized by it.

It’s probably a good thing that I can’t spend $ 140 on sneakers and have a strong aversion to Nike’s work practices. In another universe, I might end up owning the fisheye shoes because the ad is so strangely haunting. Let’s take a journey through some of the horrified, angry, hilarious, and overall chaotic responses that this unusual publicity has brought to the world.

The ad even made some public figures question whether sneakers really exist. I assure you ma’am, they do.

They are real, they are not spectacular and they haunt me daily. And yet, even now, I can’t take this final step:

The mystery of this horrible advertisement which seems created to be horrible brings me too much intrigue and fascination. May these distorted fish-eye, bee-stung shoes live on in my timeline forever.

(images: Twitter, Nike)

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