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New Balance Teams With 'Sesame Street'

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NEW YORK New Balance this week teamed with popular educational program Sesame Street for a co-branded collection of children's shoes that will debut in July.

The athletic footwear and apparel company will launch the collection across major retailers including Finish Line, Foot Locker and others, in addition to its own stores.

With a premium price point -- $43 for infant styles, $65 for grade school styles -- the shoes will be backed by a national campaign that includes TV spots during Sesame Street, which airs three times daily in most major U.S. markets. Print executions start running in July issues of Cookie and Parenting. Within New Balance's own retail network, themed street sign displays (carrying the Sesame Street nameplate) will anchor the children's section.

While the athletic company has been catering to children for years, it needed to go after the category more aggressively and create better brand awareness among mothers. "We've always looked at the kids business as a huge opportunity, and retailers have said as much to us," said Christine Maddigan, director of global marketing and brand management at New Balance, Boston.

"For us to be successful with specialty athletic, sporting goods and even our own store, we need to have that full range of categories," Maddigan added. "We noticed that we did have high brand loyalty from the moms [for themselves], but we didn't have high brand awareness of our children's shoes."

The partnership, according to Maddigan, is mutually beneficial for both brands, offering Sesame Street access to the specialty athletic retail segment while providing New Balance with the TV show's name as an anchor for its kids business.

Spending for the campaign was not revealed. Last year, New Balance spent close to $15 million on U.S. advertising, plus $7 million through the first quarter of this year, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.