While this year’s winner of the Boston Marathon was actually American Meb Keflezighi, the first American to win the marathon in more than 30 years, some may argue that the real winner was the company New Balance. The company, a maker of athletic shoes and other athletic apparel for men, women, and children, was not the official race apparel and shoe sponsor of the marathon. That role was reserved for Adidas, with their ever recognizable black and white logo. Yet one can argue that it was New Balance who succeeded at marketing for this marathon.
What is the secret to New Balance’s success? This may lie in the coordination of joint efforts through social media and other outlets like press releases, and offline forums like outdoor advertising. First, there was the simple hash tag #LoveBoston New Balance advertised on their website, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. While not referencing the marathon directly, it still brought to mind the tragedy of last year and called up support for the runners. A look at Twitter and Facebook feeds found this hash tag everywhere in reference to this year’s marathon. New Balance also utilized Instagram, where pictures of runners and of the marathon itself were posted, along with pictures of New Balance footgear
Second, New Balance advertising was everywhere in the week’s leading up to the April marathon. Bus-station wraps and light pole banners were only some of the advertising items someone in Boston might come across. Other ads were found on stairways, walls, and on the storefront of a New Balance store itself. For weeks you couldn’t wander around Boston without seeing a proliferation of New Balance signage.
New Balance also promoted itself by aligning its corporate goals with the nonprofit endeavors of One Fund Boston, set up to help the victims of last year’s bombing. A limited edition New Balance t-shirt, reading “Runners for Boston,” raised money for the nonprofit while raising New Balance’s profile. Even the colors of the shirt, and the limited edition Boston running shoe, mostly in shades of bright green and blue, were designed to draw attention to New Balance (and arguably away from the more subdued black and white of the traditional Adidas logo).
Pairing with a nonprofit and aligning with the Boston Marathon also helped New Balance show off its roots as a company headquartered in Boston, and as a company whose products are made in the U.S. This smart, multifaceted approach to marketing at the marathon was what helped New Balance come out on top as a winner this year.