Foot Locker is teaming up with ASICS to introduce a line of shoes and gear called “Welcome to the Dojo,” kicking the launch off with a five-episode series meant to thrill American anime fans.
Called “The Sun and the Snake,” the series stars our hero, Sneaker Samurai, who takes off his ASICS GEL-Lyte I sneakers before entering the dojo. When someone steals his kicks, he sets off to find them, and along the way, meets up with such notable rappers as Princess Nokia, who plays Kiku, and YFN Lucci, cast as Ghost Samurai.
“Our target demographic is looking for great product stories,” says Patrick Walsh, vice president of marketing for Foot Locker, North America, about the East/West mashup. “They’re not just interested in another colorway. They see sneakers almost as a collectible, the same way they’d buy a T-shirt to commemorate a concert.”
Stepping into the fan-obsessed world of anime makes sense both for ASICS, “which is making an effort to explore its Japanese culture and heritage,” and Foot Locker, “where we’re always looking to find new ways to connect with youth culture,” Walsh tells Marketing Daily. This series, he says, “is just the beginning.”
Because it was a new partnership, he says ASICS and Foot Locker opened the pitch to a bunch of agencies, ultimately selecting BBDO. “We were so impressed with the work BBDO brought, and the level of detail in selecting who would work on the project,” he says. Shotopop is the illustration/animation studio.
Because anime fans are so fierce, “we wanted to be respectful about how it came together. That meant choosing the right illustration team, and making sure we had young talent from the West, too.”
The first episode is scheduled to bow Aug. 21, with each episode running on Foot Locker’s YouTube and Instagram channels. Each of the segments is shoppable, and viewers can buy the featured “Welcome to the Dojo” gear and footwear within the platforms.