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Nike Drops Kyrie 4 Sneaker With New Facebook Messenger Feature

On some level, it seems entirely appropriate that two companies rocked by scandal would team up for a flashy product launch.

No stranger to the high-profile, attention-grabbing sneaker drop, Nike decided to stick with the tech theme to launch the “Red Carpet” edition Kyrie 4 basketball shoe. The world’s most valuable sports apparel company once again leveraged its SNKRS platform for the Hollywood-inspired sneaker release, but this time brought Facebook Messenger into the mix.

To get a chance to buy the limited-edition shoe, sneakerheads had to send a direct message with the “right secret emoji code”—a basketball, fire, film-studio clapperboard, and skeleton key—to the Nike SNKRS Facebook Messenger account in order to unlock the Kyrie 4 purchase page, as David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging products, revealed onstage at the F8 developer conference this week.

Nike was among a select group of brands, including Sephora and KIA, that Facebook worked with to launch a new Messenger feature. With augmented reality (AR) integrated into the Messenger platform, developers can build native AR experiences combined with chatbots, “creating the very first conversational AR experiences,” Marcus said. “This is going to be really powerful because you’ll still have the conversation behind those [filter] effects.”

The Kyrie 4 drop took full advantage of Messenger’s new AR capabilities. Once the emoji code unlocked the sneaker, users were treated to an in-camera view—using “AR effects that Nike has built into our native camera,” Marcus said—of the shoe hovering over a podium, cordoned off red-carpet style.

The AR experience lets consumers “get up close and personal” with the shoe, and take photos and videos of it to share with friends if desired. “When you’re done and close the camera, you’re back in the Nike SNKRS experience and you can buy the shoe right then and there,” Marcus said. And since consumers remains in the same message thread they started in, they can request notifications for future exclusive product drops to squelch any FOMO—fear of missing out.

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The AR update is an effort on Facebook’s part to reinforce how brands can use Messenger to connect with consumers.

Facebook’s customer chat plugin, which lets businesses continue chatting with customers even after they’ve left the website, has grown in engagement year over year from 2 billion to 8 billion monthly messages exchanged between customers and businesses, Marcus noted.

Businesses users appreciate how Facebook-powered chatbots help them better serve their customers. “Instead of the customers waiting for a day or two, our bot will address those questions and help them pick a shoe immediately,” Afshan Abbas, co-founder of Fuschia Shoes, said in a video at F8. “The open rate of emails is around 16 percent, whereas if we send a more personalized message through Messenger Bot, the open rate we’re seeing is around 90 percent.”