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Adidas Channels the ’90s for Snapchat Strategy Selling Baseball Cleats

Adidas became the first brand to sell its products directly through the Snapchat this week, releasing an 8-bit throwback video game, “Baseball’s Next Level,” on the social media app in the brand’s latest effort to appeal to young consumers.

The game’s main function is to push a new collection of the athletic brand’s Adizero, Icon V and Afterburner 6 baseball cleats. Each style in the collection sports a unique 8-bit-themed colorway in support of the brand’s Major League Baseball athletes just as the playoffs kick into gear—including Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros, and Justin Turner and Kiké Hernandez of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The collection will retail for $130 and comes with retro-gaming details like a pixelated golden coin found on the tongue of each style and a trio of upward-facing arrows on the heel tab to give the wearer a chance to “level up” each time they put their cleats on and head out to the field.

The game itself is a throwback to the 8-bit era, easily recognizable to anyone who owned the original Nintendo and other early ’90s consoles. Players are tasked with timing their virtual batter’s swing to a pitch thrown by a computer-controlled character. For each hit, depending on the timing, the player is rewarded with a corresponding number of virtual coins.

Adidas Drops 8-Bit Cleat Collection on Snapchat for the App's First-Ever Direct Retail Activation (CH)
Clicking on the scoreboard during the game will send players to the collection on Dick’s Sporting Good’s website. Adidas/Snapchat

Of course, no matter how many coins a player earns, users are still led to a link to purchase the sneakers either directly from Adidas or through its retail partner, Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is also featured in several clickable in-game advertisements alongside Adidas’ Three-Stripe logo.

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Although this is the first time Snapchat has allowed a brand to sell directly through its app, the social firm has an established track record of supporting brand campaigns. Snap Inc. has even worked with Adidas prior to this, assisting on a somewhat more traditional launch for a Kylie-Jenner-endorsed Falcon W sneaker in August 2018.

For Adidas, the throwback video game served as a chance to break ground on a one-of-a-kind activation. In many ways, the release of “Baseball’s Next Level” is an offshoot of the brand’s overall strategy to take advantage of Snapchat’s augmented reality function. This past December, Adidas and Snapchat gave fans of the three stripes a chance to try on its new Ultraboost sneakers through the app—a method that was also explored by Levi’s, Disney, Amazon, Nike and even Lego.

Snapchat commands the attention of around 188 million daily users, about two-thirds of whom are between 13 and 17 years old, and boasts an above-average click-through rate compared to similar social apps.