This advertising gimmick gives a whole new meaning to the words "training shoes."
Crowds thronged outside a store in Berlin's trendy Kreuzberg district in January ahead of the release of a new limited edition set of Adidas EQT Support 93/Berlin sport shoes. This time it was different though. Instead of the usual crush of "sneakerhead" shoe collectors, this crowd included a mix of fans of public transportation looking for a deal.
For good reason: the shoes on sale for 180 Euros (US$225) include a pass to the Berlin bus and underground train network for all of 2018 -- a value worth 720 Euros ($900)!
The shoes have an annual travel pass (Jahresticket) sewn into the tongue. Train inspectors and bus drivers will respect the owner's right to travel on any buses and underground trains in all of the regions A-B-C of the wider Berlin network as long as both shoes are being worn (they cannot be carried in a bag, for example). A curious red, blue, black, and grey camouflage adorns the surfaces of the seats on many of Berlin's buses and trains. The BVG changed to this fabric as an anti-graffiti measure, which has been largely successful. Now the characteristic camo stands out as the most noticeable of several decorations associating the sneakers with the BVG.
The model has been revived from the years shortly after the Berlin wall fell, when it was a favorite among the East Germans who found themselves newly introduced to the bounties of capitalism. The retro-look and BVG design together lend an aura of so much kitsch that it can only be cool.
The transport company isn't too worried about losing money on the bargain. Most of the shoes will end up with collectors, possibly as souvenirs of the city, rather than costing the BVG too many ticket sales. But in recent news, the Berlin enforcement personnel are already on the hunt for counterfeits!
The BVG has been getting headlines for their cheeky "Because we love you" (Weil wir dich lieben) campaign on Twitter and FaceBook as well. Followers are entertained with sweet or comical moments capturing the whimsies of life in the world of public transport and a sarcastic humor that is not afraid to offend or get political, including confronting an anti-immigrant far-right politician and even trolling U.S. President Donald Trump.
They used their social media presence to auction off the last two pairs from the limited edition of 500 with proceeds going to help the homeless -- the sale brought in 4370 Euros (US$ ) for the cause. It seems the "sneakerheads" are already on their way to premium prices, and the true fans of public transport will have a year to enjoy beating the system!