When Nike wanted to transform Chicago’s famous restaurant, Lulu’s Hot Dogs, into a Nike-branded “World Famous Chicago-Style Diner” featuring a pop-up restaurant and community experience, they sought a versatile partner who could do it all. Nike turned to Chicago Scenic.
It wasn’t the first time Nike and Chicago Scenic had collaborated. In fall 2018, Chicago Scenic helped transform a church on Chicago’s West Side into a summer basketball training program for inner-city youth. At Lulu’s, the same project challenges applied: an aggressive schedule, the need for a wide and deep array of fabrication skills, the sourcing and coordination of subcontractors, and managing communication with the various client team members.
The transformation of Lulu’s brought the diner that originally appeared in Nike’s “Chicago-Style” advertising campaign to life. Working closely with long-time graphics partner Moss, Chicago Scenic’s consulting Project Manager Blasko Ristic oversaw the production and installation of colorful Nike-branded graphics that completely transformed the diner’s interior look.
The sports “hero walls” bright graphics were a backdrop for the collection of artifacts highlighting iconic sports figures from Chicago’s sports teams. A team of prop dressers led by Ashton Swinford arranged and installed caricatures of athletes, photos of fans and high school athletes, and local school memorabilia to complement the professional sports artifact collection.
The restaurant’s changeover to Nike’s “World Famous Chicago-Style diner” included small touches as well: the restaurant’s menu board featured Nike’s slogan, “Sport Changes Everything” and newly named menu items (“the Free-Throw Line Dunk” Italian beef, the “Clean Sweep Tamale”). While the restaurant was open for business as usual during the day, special evening events were hosted, from “watch parties” to athlete appearances. In order to accommodate as many participants as possible, Chicago Scenic’s team removed the diner’s tables and chairs, normally bolted to the floor, and put them on temporary “sleds” to make them mobile. In preparation for evening events, the event staff quickly and easily transformed seating into different configurations to maximize the space and accommodate the popular evening events.
Outside the diner, the transformation continued. Chicago Scenic worked with local asphalt contractor Abbey Paving to re-grade and install the new Nike-branded basketball court. Chicago Scenic’s artists provided bright paint touches along with official regulation lines. Beyond the basketball backboards, building exteriors featured bright welcoming artwork as the courts opened for the week-long line-up of drills, clinics, and competitive games. High school teams from around the city were bused into the Nike Diner for the games.
The transformation of Lulu’s Hot Dogs was just one event leading up to Nike’s All-Star Game, scheduled to take place in Chicago in February 2020. The Nike team worked with partners Wieden+Kennedy on the project’s creative development and agency MKTG for event execution. The brand experience ran from October 26 – November 4.
Team: Wieden+Kennedy (creative development), MKTG (event execution), Chicago Scenic (fabrication, project management)