GOLD WINNER: New Balance: “LOVE/Hate in the USA”
Client: New Balance
Entrant Company: PHD New York
Entry Category: A Local Execution of a Multinational Campaign
Names to be credited with submission:
• Donna Kirchman,
• Tara Schwartz,
• Bettina Gallo,
• Lara Edwards,
• Laura Munzing,
• Seth Glosman,
• Jessica Hindlian,
• Chris Dunlap,
• Damien Brunson,
• Abbie Shultz
all PHD USA.
Time Period of Campaign: 2008
Case Study Summary:
Marketing Situation: New Balance has been regarded as a brand based on comfort and worn by older, loyal consumers; its loyalty rate is the highest in the athletic footwear business. High-performance runners and marathoners recognize New Balance as having superior technically-driven products that provide an optimal running experience.
In 2008, New Balance also boasted the oldest median customer age among top sneaker brands. Studies agree that 16-29 year olds are more likely to purchase 3+ pairs of athletic shoes a year, while the “competitive athlete” subset buys even more. New Balance needed to better connect with this younger demographic—without alienating its core enthusiast and older constituencies.
Media was used to make emotion connections with the targets and to breathe life into the creative. Two key partnerships were used—one with MTV for its influence with young consumers and one with ESPN as a destination for sports enthusiasts.
Media Strategy: Media was used to make emotion connections with the targets and to breathe life into the creative. Two key partnerships were used—one with MTV for its influence with young consumers and one with ESPN as a destination for sports enthusiasts.
MTV held a Real World Anniversary Awards Show with some of the biggest characters from past seasons as the series entered its 20th year, and New Balance created a custom “Roommate you LOVE to Hate” Award. The Awards Show also kicked off the new season, where New Balance sponsored a recap of the previous episode, highlighting moments you “LOVE to Hate.” As a brand “endorsed by on one,” this enable consumers to connect with relatable characters.
On August 6th at 11pm, New Balance took over ESPN’s SportsCenter with eight minutes of air time during the 1-hour program. Long-from content featured athletes discussing their love-hate relationship running. (By sheer coincidence, August 6th was also the day that legendary football quarterback Bret Favre came out of retirement to sign with the New York Jets—boosting the show’s viewership on the news value of the story.)
New Balance also partnered with ESPN Rise, a publication for high school athletes, with a 5-page insert branded “Training Day,” which highlighted four young athletes and their love-hate relationship with training. This program also included a reader sweepstakes to better connect the brand with young competitive athletes.
How Could this be a Template for Other Campaigns or for World Class Standards? Each region followed the U.S. brief because both the marketing task (reach a younger target without alienating core consumers) and the key insights (Love-hate with running and the brand association with the “right feet”) are consistent across the New Balance global footprint.
Because the insight is universal, the creative was easily adapted to each region. The budgets varied by country, so the expression of the LOVE/hate message was carried out in many different ways—but always with the same emotional connection.
Results: In an independent tracking study through Charlton Strategic Research, overall purchase-intent data for New Balance was higher than any other brand in the category. Against the “competitive athlete” segment, purchase consideration rose dramatically.
Additionally, in post-test, consumers in the 16-29 age group associated the following attributes with New Balance: understands running, modern, stylish, authentic, innovative and fun. The represented a significant improvement over pre-tests.