New Balance Woos Sneakerheads

NEW YORK In an attempt to solidify its standing with influential sneaker bloggers, New Balance Lifestyle has launched a campaign around a limited release — just 480 — of the company’s 574 Clips running shoe.

This marks the first New Balance work from independent shop Mother since the agency added the New Balance Lifestyle account last August. (BBDO, New York, handles the brand’s other work.)

Mother’s effort includes a Polaroid in each of the 480 shoes with a 5-digit code on the back that buyers can use to “claim” their shoe online. The individual attention is meant to underscore the unusual, all-American lineage of the sneakers: Each is composed of leftover material clippings in New Balance’s Lawrence, Mass., factory, hence the name “Clips.”

The 574 Clips will sell for $75 each, so the goal is not to boost revenue, but to create positive buzz among sneaker bloggers known as “sneakerheads” in the industry. “They’re vastly important for us because of the influence they have over the broader marketplace,” said Taylor Duffy, client integrated marketing manager.

One of the industry’s key sneakerheads is Matt Halfhill, founder of, which gets 2 million hits per month.  “I think we are tastemakers at times,” he said. “What we say might catch on. Sometimes people look to the blogs for opinions about the shoes and read the comments closely.”

Only a sneakerhead is likely to fully appreciate Mother’s campaign, which invites buyers of the shoes to visit a 574 Clips Web site to find the video clip of their shoe and claim it by entering the 5-digit code. Later, consumers are invited to share that information with friends via Tumblr, MySpace, Delicious and Facebook. The clips show the shoes doing things like riding a roller coaster or even being chased by a zebra.

The viral media component is designed to let the buzz linger even after the shoes have sold out, said Kristina Helb, a client rep.

New Balance launched Lifestyle about two years ago, after Tyson Foods vet Robert DeMartini took over as CEO. The idea, similar to the Adidas’ Originals line, was to recycle New Balance’s older running shoes, which have become hip in certain circles. After Mother was brought on board, the agency launched a research project that identified New Balance’s brand essence and its audience, including those influential bloggers.

Nielsen Business Media