New Balance Short Films Step Into Social Outreach

New Balance is looking to get a foothold into consumers’ daily lives with a new set of 365 short films—one of which will be released every day over the next year.

The 15- to 30-second films, which began appearing online at on Feb. 22, are a figurative exploration of the theme of balance.

One film, for instance, might feature dueling banjo players performing different parts of the same song. Another film could show the proportional relationship between the sun and clouds.

Jed Grossman, art director at Mother which created the campaign, said that sometimes the link will be obvious, but occasionally a film will demand more interpretation from the viewer. “Some films are funny, others are more artful; some thoughtful and some are hard to explain,” he said. The ads were shot by Swedish director Jesper Kouthoofd, who’s manned the camera for brands like Ikea and Volvo.

Though the films will include New Balance products—in particular, shoes from its spring/summer 2010 collection—the intent was to produce material more entertaining than literal.

“We wanted to create content that people [would] actually want to watch every day, perhaps for a year,” said Mark Aver, art director at Mother. “Something enjoyable that doesn’t hit you over the head.”

In conjunction with the effort is a new iPhone app that also plays on the balance theme—an alarm-clock feature that wakes the user up with a different sound each day. “Our intent is to engage the consumer,” said Steve Gardner, strategic business unit manager for New Balance’s Lifestyle category. “Consumers are looking for something that excites them.”

Gardner added that the effort will be promoted mostly via word of mouth, though there will be some banner ads and possible print support come spring.

NewBalance365 follows Mother’s last campaign for New Balance in September for 574 Clips, a limited-edition shoe. That effort included a short film for each of the 574 pairs of the line that were released.

New Balance isn’t the only marketer in the category to experiment with new sorts of marketing approaches. In 2008, Converse worked with Anomaly on a series of 20 or so microsites that did everything from offer an online spelling bee to give men advice on how to pick up women.

More recently, Nike, Adidas and Reebok began including codes in their shoe boxes that consumers could use to access online content. Adidas offered such a code in its Originals sneakers that unlocked an augmented-reality experience online.

Outside the category, Matthew DiPietro, director of marketing and communications at Federated Media, noted a general trend in which marketers are trying to use online media to forge deeper relationships with consumers.

“It’s a complete sea change from the way brands have looked at marketing,” he said. “They’re providing something of real value, whether it’s content or a new way for consumers to connect with one another.”