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'Shoes That Fit Like a Glove'

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NEW YORK New Balance takes some liberties with the dictionary in a campaign created by Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners here that breaks on Monday. In print and in two TV spots, New Balance tells consumers that "'N' is for fit ... 'N' is for performance."

Campaign spending is estimated at $15 million.

The TV commercials, "Performance" and "Taxi," are both filmed in a stark gray tone and feature two male runners. At the end of each ad, the running shoes are deconstructed to reveal bare running feet, with New Balance's "N" logo emblazoned in bright colors on the side of the foot. "Achieve New Balance" remains the tagline.

"These striking visuals reinforce [the concept] that wearing a pair of New Balance is like wearing a pair of shoes that fits like a glove," said Paul Heffernan, evp of global marketing for New Balance.

The "Performance" spot opens with an extreme close-up of a runner's face in what seems to be a study in perseverance: we hear his strained breathing and see his weary but determined look, as the camera cuts to his chest and peers inside to see his beating heart. "'N' is for performance. It's for every yard, every minute, every second," a voiceover intones.

"Taxi," the second commercial, is similar to Nike's "Shadow Racing" spot of a few years ago. In this one, a runner is bent over, breathing heavily with his hands on his knees. A woman gets into a cab and asks to be taken to Mason and 3rd Street. The runner touches the yellow cab as if to give it a head start. Then he takes off, racing through puddles and avoiding a street blocked by police. He arrives at the intersection as the cab pulls over, letting the woman out and a new customer in.