Instagram users with at least a passing interest in sneakers will have seen a lot of the Yeezy 350 Boost in their feed recently. That’s not because so many people owned the sneaker already – it didn’t release until Saturday – it’s because seemingly every retailer under the sun was giving a pair away in an online competition of some sort. “Re-post this photo and tag us to be in with a chance of winning!” Sound familiar?

Why were stores giving away one of the most hyped sneaker releases of the season – one that they were guaranteed to sell?

Put simply, retailers used the hype surrounding the Yeezy release to their own ends. Firstly, the aforementioned Instagram competitions were used to drive traffic to stores’ Instagram accounts. Mile-long campouts are a major headache for any retailer (just ask Supreme) – especially when the profit margins for hyped sneaker releases are so small (most accounts only get 12 pairs of each release, if that). It seems many stores were instead using the shoe to drive traffic to their social media channels instead; if you think of the huge demand for any sneaker with Kanye’s name on it, it’s a no brainer.

Shop What Awesome Looks Like Between now and Saturday, 8/22 by 4pm, stop by FRUITION Las Vegas to earn your chance to own a pair of the Pirate Black Yeezy Boost 350 Design by Kanye West. One raffle ticket will be issued for every $30 spent in store. There is no limit to how many raffle tickets one can acquire. Drawing will be held at FRUITION Las Vegas on 8/22 at 5pm. Winners will be determined by random drawing. Rules & Guidelines: Follow @FRUITIONLV Re-gram this photo and tag 20 friends to receive one additional raffle ticket following your purchase at FRUITION Las Vegas. Re-posts must include the hashtags and @ handles below. Winners must be present with valid id to win. Winners can only win once. #YEEZYBOOST #AdidasOriginals #FRUITIONLV @AdidasOriginals @FRUITIONLV

A photo posted by FRUITION LAS VEGAS (@fruitionlv) on

As well as Instagram competitions, many retailers sold the 350 Boost via raffle – rather than the traditional first-come, first-served basis. As well as avoiding camping headaches, raffles get a ton of people down to the store: turning release day into a major event for retailers. Las Vegas store Fruition LV took the raffling strategy to the next level: giving out tickets for every $30 spent in the store, with no upper limit for how many tickets you could purchase. The more money you spent, the better chance you had of ‘winning’ (you still need to pay, of course) the sneaker! Ingenious.

You have to wonder what adidas are thinking of all of this. Their biggest event of the year was hi-jacked by retailers for self-promotion, and one of their most hyped sneaker releases was given away left, right and center.

For more sneakerhead think pieces, check out The Ingenious Methods Nike Uses to Control the Sneaker Resell Market.

  • Photography:
Words by Alec Leach
Freelance Writer/Editor/Consultant

Alec Leach grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives in Berlin