By Barry Janoff
April 5, 2015: Adidas is the official footwear and apparel partner for one of the most iconic sports events in the U.S. But New Balance has become the homegrown 800. lb. guerrilla for adidas in Boston, unveiling a multi-layer platform to grab its share of attention before and during the upcoming Boston Marathon.
This will be adidas's 27th year as the exclusive footwear and apparel partner of the Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20. Its current deal with Boston Athletic Assn., which oversees the Marathon, runs through 2023.
Adidas will have sanctioned Boston Marathon marketing and activation throughout the city, on the race course and via official event apparel and shoes.
Meanwhile, “Nobody Runs Like Boston" will be New Balance's sixth Boston Marathon-specific campaign, a follow-up to last year's theme, "Love Boston."
New Balance's aggressive, guerrilla marketing tactics at an adidas "owned" event is one of the reasons that adidas last year fell to No. 3 in retail sales in the U.S. behind Nike and Under Armour, and a catalyst in adidas choosing not to renew its deal with the NBA when the contract expires after the 2016-17 season in order to refocus on its priorities.
Nike, Saucony, Skechers, Under Armour, Mizuno and Asics are among the other footwear brands that will also have presence at and shoes on the feet of runners in the Boston Marathon
“We developed this campaign to highlight the unique running heritage in Boston and to celebrate the spring running season,” Jeff McAdams, head of global running marketing at New Balance, said in a statement. “Running is at the core of what we do at New Balance, and every year we look forward to welcoming the international running community to our city.”
The ads will feature such text as “Only Boston Makes You Train With Three Feet,” referring to the city's historic snowfall this past winter; "Only in Boston Do A Million People Take The Day Off So 30,000 Can Work,” a humorous jab at the fact that Marathon Monday is considered a local holiday; and “Only Boston’s Doubleheader Includes A Marathon," a reference to the Boston Red Sox' game that day in Fenway Park against the Baltimore Orioles.
New Balance's outdoor Boston takeover includes bus shelter wraps, signage on light pole banners and barricades along the race course and elsewhere, and signage in and near Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority train stops and race barricades.
In addition, the New Balance campaign will have significant presence at the Prudential Center, which will be a hub of Marathon activity, through multiple interior wallscapes, an exterior banner and staircase advertisements "that draw attention to the tough and dedicated runners who flock to Boston’s streets every year," according to the company.
New Balance also is launching branded initiatives with Boston-based destinations including the Lenox Hotel, Boloco QSRs, Thinking Cup, Harpoon Brewery and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese.
Like adidas, New Balance will have a booth in the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo, which will be open April 17-19, with more than 150 brands on display.
New this year for adidas will be Boston Marathon Runbase (pictured), a retail destination that is a collaboration among the Boston Athletic Assn., Boston-based retailer Marathon Sports and adidas. It will be located on Boylston Street, several blocks from the finish line, and is scheduled to open on the Thursday before the race.
In addition to adidas gear and footwear, it will have a section displaying historic artifacts from the Boston Marathon, now in its 118th year, including items from the 2013 race when it was impacted by a pair of bombs that exploded near the finish line.
According to adidas, which has five similar destinations worldwide, the location will have showers and a changing room, available to people who sign in and are given a locker room key. It will remain open year-round after the race.
“RunBase is a one-of-a-kind resource for runners based in and traveling to Boston,” Mikal Peveto, global director of running innovation for adidas, said in a statement. “Adidas is taking its partnership with the Boston Athletic Association to the next level with the help of Marathon Sports to let runners experience the best of our brand and the spirit of the greatest race year-round.”
Separately, New Balance is also making inroads into MLB territory, signing All-Star Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. In addition to being Cano’s official on-field footwear and off-field apparel provider, New Balance will support the charitable work of his RC22 Foundation.
“I signed with New Balance because they understand what is important to me on and off the baseball field,” Cano said in a statement. “They support my commitment to my family, my home and the RC22 Foundation and our relationship has already shown that with their contribution to the RC22 Dream School. I’m honored to be the newest face of their baseball division.”
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