New Balance markets itself as the anti-Nike and anti-Reebok athletic shoe.
No celebrity endorsers
The campaign, from Boathouse of Waltham, Mass., uses the tagline "For Love or Money?" and features amateur athletes and high school teams. New Balance has never had a professional athlete as an endorser, and the campaign comes just weeks after Reebok introduced its celebrity-driven "I Am What I Am" campaign.
"It's a pretty clear line in the sand that there really are two different sets of values in sports," said James Overall, a partner and creative director for Boathouse. "We don't slam pro athletes. We just say each plays by its own set of values and we ask the public which means more to them."
It is the first national campaign for New Balance that features its entire array of products, from footwear and apparel to licensed goods such as sunglasses, socks and headwear. New Balance spent $12.1 million in measured media through October of last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. By contrast, Nike spent $192 million, Adidas spent $70.8 million and Reebok was at $35.2 million.
Spending kept increasing
"We did have a financial framework in mind for the campaign, but I think as we saw how the TV unfolded and the print and the outdoor, the questions that we asked, the Web component, it grew with intensity," said Paul Heffernan, New Balance's executive vice president for global marketing. "We said it had a lot of lets, and let's fund it accordingly."
New Balance, a $1.4 billion company that is fourth in the sneaker and apparel market behind Nike, Reebok and Adidas, hopes to reach the 25-49 year old demographic that is driven less by star status symbols and more by personal motivation. Or, the opposite of the youthful market that seeks to wear the same gear worn by pro athletes.
The campaign launched this week with a series of ads in USA Today, radio spots and online banners that are meant to ask thought-provoking questions such as "If no one was watching, would you play just as hard?" and "Which teaches a player more, winning or losing?" and teased a microsite, www.newbalance.com/vote, that features more of the same type of question.
Beginning March 12, the first weekend of the heavily viewed NCAA men's basketball tournament on TV, four commercials will break nationally. The full tagline for the commercials is: "There are two motivations in sports. Which is yours? For Love or Money?"
Running against the establishment
Creating the appearance of running against the establishment has worked well for some marketers, such as JetBlue, the anti-airlines airline, and realtor YHD Foxtons, which promotes its industry-low 2% commission.
"We've always taken the path less traveled," Mr. Heffernan said. "We're not worried about pleasing everyone. It's a big market."