Nike Discovery Lab

  • Olivia Hicks
  • Charlie Sheppard
  • Alex Bec
  • Ellen Turnill Montoya
  • Callum Green
  • Mercedes Graves Johnston

We used play to explain Nike innovation to young people.

The brief. Nike’s Young Athletes brand category and JD Sports approached Anyways to communicate the benefits behind key Nike innovations to young people aged 8–12 years old.

To help both brands authentically talk to the young audience we devised and built the ‘Discovery Lab’. A one day event that turned a group of Nike’s ‘Young Athletes’ into scientists, where they tested and learnt about Nike’s ‘Air’ and ‘React’ innovations through a series of experiments, then put their learnings into practise by designing the sneakers of tomorrow.
Authentic experiences. To begin the project we set out to learn all we could about such a young target audience. This was to make sure we understood the best way for Nike and JD Sports to connect with young people in an authentic and mutually beneficial way.
We embarked on a thorough stage of research and analysis; Diving into the world that this audience inhabits, looking at previous successes and what this age-range congregate towards. We also interviewed a number of youth workers, parents, teachers, museum workers, and sporting coaches to get their first-hand everyday insights.
Using these learnings to guide us we created the ‘Discovery Lab’, a one day event created specifically for young people to use science and play to ask imaginative questions and learn about Nike innovations.
The day was split into two sections. The first housed four hands-on experiments where the 8 - 12 year olds could put these innovations to the test, and the second was a workshop where they put their learnings into practice, designing their perfect sneaker.
Science meets fun. We created a visual language - a balance between science and fun - that was rolled out across all touchpoints of the project. This was to create an immersive experience for the young people, making them feel like real scientists working with Nike. Upon arrival they received branded lab coats, goggles, clipboards to write down their scientific findings, and ID cards showing that they qualified to take part in the day.
Learning through play. From our research and testing we discovered that hands-on activities gained a higher level of interaction and engagement,as young people today are surrounded by screens 24/7. So each of our four experiments focused on hands-on learning.
Floating Air was a giant fan and a selection of special air bubbles that visualised the more air = the lighter the shoe. With Bounce Back we created special Air testing units to ask the young people to walk across an uncomfortable floor and see just how much Air improves every step. We demonstrated how light React was by asking our audience to weigh a React sneaker against some super light objects in Hella Light. How Many put the longevity of the React through its paces by asking the guests to do as many steps, jumps, or hops as they could in 30 seconds.
Making the future. At the workshop we asked the Young Athletes what they wished their shoes could help them do - run really fast, jump over their house, be super bouncy - and then provided a series of materials to help them create their vision.
Each material represented the core benefit of a different Nike innovation, from ‘bouncy’ and ‘long lasting’, to ‘comfy’ and ‘lightweight’. The best designs were then displayed in Nike Town London.
Making a difference. Throughout the day 85 young people passed through the Discovery Lab, with the social content created around the event reaching thousands more. The takeover on JD Sports’ Instagram Story almost doubled the average reach of each post, and entries to a social-based Nike led competition gathered a total of 22K entries.
But the main result was the effect the day had on the young people who took part. A parent of one attendee said; “Events like this really make a difference to children who do not have exposure/interaction of this sort.”


  • Nike logo


    • Fashion and Textiles
  • JD Sports logo

    JD Sports

    • Retail
  • S

    Studio PSK