Jul 18, 2023

'The Sneaker Boom' Docuseries On '90s Basketball Shoe Marketing In Works From Sean Menard & RTG Features


EXCLUSIVE: Sean Menard (299 Queen Street West) has been set to direct the docuseries The Sneaker Boom, on basketball shoe marketing of the ’90s, for RTG Features, the sister studio to basketball-focused media company Slam. RTG Features CEO Aron Phillips is among the producers of the project, which Sean Menard Productions is co-producing.

Currently in post-production, the series is set amidst the NBA’s rise in global popularity during the early ’90s, watching as a group of marketing mavericks and advertising execs bet millions on unproven rookies as they enlist their talents for wildly creative television commercials. As the players grow into superstars, basketball sneakers go from being a niche sportswear product to everyday fashion, en route to becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry.

The story of The Sneaker Boom is told through the lens of ’90s NBA legends including Dee Brown, Larry Johnson, Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill — who were respectively sponsored by Reebok, Converse, Nike and Fila — and the unsung brand marketers and advertising creatives that brought their popular campaigns to life. The project is described as picking up where Prime Video’s recent Nike pic Air leaves off. And while it should be noted that none of the same behind-the-scenes creatives from that Ben Affleck-directed film are aboard this project, it does prominently feature Sonny Vaccaro, the former sports marketing executive (played in Air by Matt Damon) who proved integral in bringing Michael Jordan to Nike for the launch of the Air Jordan line.

The Sneaker Boom came about following Menard’s collaboration with RTG Features’ Phillips on the Netflix doc The Carter Effect, examining the global impact of NBA legend Vince Carter, which premiered at TIFF in 2017, as well as the 2016 feature doc Fight Mom on UFC fighter Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson.

Said Menard in a statement to Deadline, “The most interesting aspect of production for me was getting to meet these marketing execs who had never shared their story on camera before. Early in their careers they helped launch sneakers into mainstream popular culture, and their success came from taking big creative risks. It was very inspiring.”

“Teaming up with Sean again was a no-brainer,” added RTG Features’ Phillips. “By flipping the script from the players to the marketers and advertisers behind them, we’re able to tell a fascinating sports business story about basketball and sneaker culture that’s never been told before.”

Menard most recently directed and produced the SXSW-premiering documentary 299 Queen Street West, which goes on tour across Canada this fall for 13 one-night-only events, coming to streaming in the country on the platform Crave at the end of the year. Offering new access to archival interviews with icons ranging from Kurt Cobain and David Bowie to Tupac Shakur, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears, the film tells the story of scrappy Canadian television upstart MuchMusic from the perspective of the VJs who helped launch it with no prior TV hosting experience, broadcasting live across the country without scripts or much in the way of direction.

Also spotlighting sneaker culture with the forthcoming animated feature Sneaks, produced by and starring three-time Emmy winner Laurence Fishburne, RTG Features counts amongst its other upcoming projects the biopic Hawk on former NFL player Andrew Hawkins, which is being produced in partnership with his Parks Tower Studios, as well as an untitled, multi-part docuseries on legendary Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson from Peabody Award-winning director Kirk Fraser.