Blast from the past: Nike releases Y2K-style ads for retro sneakers

Recently, Nike released a set of two Y2K-style video ads for its retro Zoom Vomero 5 running shoes. Starring actor Jin Shijia and track and field athlete Lin Yuwei, the ads show the two relaxing in the city in the runners, with the slogan “Whatever makes you comfortable” (怎么舒服怎么来). On Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, the topic “Whatever makes you comfortable” gained an impressive 1.94 million views for a small-scale campaign.

Both videos are presented in 4:3 aspect ration, with an early 2000s style low-definition filter, forming a distinct turn-of-the-century early digital look, complete with classic WordArt style text with highlights and shades. Jin’s video shows him walking in the rain with a bag of “youtiao” doughnuts (also called “yu char kway” in Cantonese-speaking regions) and “doujiang” soy milk, a standard traditional breakfast in some regions. He walks past people queueing for a café/bakery that is supposedly popular with celebrities unimpressed and shows off his Vomero 5s.

Lin, on the other hand, relaxedly treads on an air walker in a park while a group of men conduct a photo shoot of their newly purchased bicycle for social media. She asked indifferently if they are were going to ride before resuming her light exercise. Both videos end with the tagline: whatever makes you comfortable. The message of both ads is to relax and not follow trends.

The Nike Zoom Vomero 5 is the fifth generation of the Vomero series and was first introduced in 2011 as a performance runner. Since 2022, the sneakers have enjoyed a sizeable resurgence in popularity, due to both the post-pandemic trend of running and the Y2K-style fashion revival. While seemingly unassuming, the sneaker is praised for being not only comfortable but also easy to style with casual outfits because of its low profile.

With the younger generations in China increasingly seeking a relaxed lifestyle, Nike tries to resonate with the sensibility of “songchigan” (松弛感, lit. sense of looseness, sometimes translated as “chillax”). With retro fashion and light urban activities like citywalk continuing to be popular, Nike is targeting the urban young with its retro aesthetic and relaxed lifestyle.


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