The Story Behind All Those Neon Green Nikes

Eyes are glued to the track this week as Olympic runners like Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross and Tyler Gay push to the finish line. But it's not just the heart-thumping heats that have captured our attention. Who can ignore that flourescent footwear?

The technical name for the neon shade of green being seared into your retinas is "Volt," and it's the uniform shade Nike is using for its track and field shoes at the London 2012 Games.

Because they're impossible to miss on the ruddy red track, the fluorescent Volt kicks—which come in a variety of editions specific to sprinting, distance, field and marathon performance—are quite literally the most brilliant, if somewhat unsubtle, nugget of branding to emerge at the Summer Games.

Nike media relations director KeJuan Wilkins, who's currently in London for the Olympics, says that while technology and performance is the fundamental priority, Nike also wanted to make a "bold statement" with their Olympic sneakers.

"That color is something that has become more of a signature to Nike," says Wilkins. "So even if you don't see the swoosh, you see a color like that, and there's such a connection to Nike that people identify it with us."

Nike has plenty of experience when it comes to making splashy statements on the field. "It was something we did during the World Cup two years ago in South Africa, with an orange soccer boot," Wilkins explains.

He says this year's florescent green hue is actually "one of the most visible colors to the eye itself"—making it an even more effective attention grabber.

While Wilkins declined to comment on the shoes' retail performance, he says noticeable buzz is building around the neon shade.

"There's a lot of energy around that color right now for consumers," he says.

New York's Nike flagship already stocks training and racing versions of the track and field shoes, and no doubt we'll be seeing more shock-green gear trickling into stores in the weeks to come.

Olympic demand has also affected Olympic sponsor Adidas and its range of red and navy adiZero kicks for the U.K. team. Surprisingly, the adiZero racing spikes—which press director Caitlin Albaugh says were "designed to be the lightest track spikes ever made"—aren't carried at the brand's Manhattan store on Broadway, although a sales associate said "everybody has been asking for them."

Meanwhile, Puma—which outfits the indomitable Jamaican track team—has stocked its New York flagship store in Union Square with various editions of the Olympic "Bolt" (not to be confused with "Volt") running shoes. Of course, if the world's fastest man smashes any more records this week, expect to put up a fight for your size.

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