Close-Up: Why adland turned Nike trainers into fish tanks

Creatives came up with an array of weird and wonderful designs when asked how the brand inspires them.

Nike as a brand has long been a source of creative inspiration. The global sports giant has paved the way for some of advertising's most celebrated work, from the "St Wayne" poster to the latest "write the future" ad.

And it was Nike's range of sports shoes that recently formed the basis for an innovative creative challenge. The London College of Communication student Paul Jenkins put a number of creatives to the test by asking them to "challenge the function of a pair of Nike shoes" and devise a piece of "conceptual excellence" that reflected Nike's boundary-pushing status.

Seventy-eight art directors and designers around the world, from agencies such as Wieden & Kennedy, Code Computerlove and KesselsKramer, were sent a pair of shoes as a starting point. "It took a long time for me to source the people that I wanted to get involved," Jenkins says. "I wanted a broad range of established and up-and-coming creatives - basically, anyone who would thrive when I sent them this '3D blank canvas'."

The results were diverse and imaginative. Wieden & Kennedy Tokyo, which was sent a pair of Nike Air Max 360s, reconfigured a shoe into a fish tank, "to emphasise that the 360s contains more air in its soles than any other Nike shoe".

Meanwhile, the designer Matt Blease turned his shoe into a space shuttle, complete with astronaut, in order to highlight the similarities between Nike and Nasa, in terms of cultivating ideas, visions and developing technologies.

KesselsKramer, meanwhile, took inspiration from the shoes it was sent to produce "Poems from the sole" - a series of poems that emerged from their experiences of running in Nike shoes.

The results from the project will feature in an exhibition at this year's London Design Festival, which takes place in September.

"I feel the project has provided a unique and special way of taking the Nike brand and pushing the creative boundaries, which is exactly the direction the company has always been heading," Jenkins says.

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