The Tyro Blog

6 April 2016 - 3 min read

Business Strategies

How the Kanye West sneaker sting grabbed $100K in free publicity

Growth hacks come in all shapes and sizes but the best ones are free. See how two Sydney shoe stores used a handful of Kanye West trainers to plunder $100,000 in national media coverage.

Whatever you think of the US rapper’s antics, it’s impossible to deny West’s popularity in footwear design. I am not sure how much time he spent with the Adidas design team in coming up with the low-top Yeezy Boost 350 sneaker, but they are hot and so is their marketing.

A drip-feed release of the much-coveted shoe over the last year has garnered almost as much free publicity as one his rants about Taylor Swift.

The tactic is relatively simple – promote exclusivity through celebrity endorsement and scarcity. Of course, getting some celeb lustre is a little easier if your wife is Kim Kardashian (pictured with West) and the whole Kardashian clan is photographed wearing a pair.

But there is genius in the slow release. By keeping the number of shoes dolled out to each major market (US, UK, Europe, Australia) relatively low and getting the sneaker community (yes, there is one) to drive interest has proven a winner.

There has been same-day sell-outs in each market (in less than 15 minutes in the US) including here in Australia.

What’s Mr Kardashian’s sneakers got to do with growing your business?

It’s about taking an opportunity when it presents itself. When the Yeezy frenzy swept across the country with thousands of people lining up for days for its August release and again in February, a few local stores cashed in big time.

Sydney’s Espionage collected about 8000 email addresses by offering an online lottery for their stock in the initial run. Incu’s Sydney and Melbourne stores also took advantage of having what was only a handful of pairs. After the massive run-out in August, Incu even repeated the dose in February by telling customers they needed to not only enter a raffle again to try their luck, they had to go in person to the store, fill out their details (think mailing list), then return the next day to collect their prize if they won.

What both lost on in shoes (they go for $1500-plus on eBay), they more than made up for in the thousands of email addresses, new followers on social media, and free national media coverage which is estimated upwards of $100,000.

Remember, grab your moments (and keep it legal). If the shoes fit, run with it.

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