New Balance is getting creative for its first year as the official apparel and shoe sponsor of the TCS New York City Marathon, employing everything from a pop-up shop to experiential consumer activations around the city prior to the race on Nov. 5.
The theme of the marketing campaign is “All Roads Lead to NYC,” and is intended to celebrate the victory that runners feel crossing the finish line after their 26.2-mile journey. The campaign will include images of participants in the 2016 race throwing their hands up in the air like a “Y.”
To continue on that theme, New Balance will install several NYC Victory Pose locations around the city featuring life-size three-dimensional “N” and “C” letters where visitors can be photographed making themselves the “Y.” Those photos can then be posted on social media. The Victory Pose locations will open on Oct. 29 at the marathon expo, the Sheraton New York Times Square, the New York Road Runners’ RunCenter, New Balance’s Flatiron store and Paragon Sports.
In addition, a New Balance Run Club pop-up, located in the And&And space at 353 West 12th Street, will be open from Nov. 2-4 and will feature different programming each day. The first day will focus on the rhythm of distance running with musical guests, Friday’s program will center on performance and will include a Team New Balance athlete panel, and Saturday will take on the issue of fuel for marathon runners. The pop-up will offer food, drinks, daily runs and limited-edition merchandise for sale.
Road to NYC ads will kick off on Oct. 9 on digital billboards in Times Square, subway stations at Hudson Yards and Columbus Circle, as well as in taxis and in broadcast spots.
“We are excited to celebrate our first year as an NYRR foundation partner and help host this incredible event,” said Tom Carleo, vice president of running for New Balance. “Participants travel different roads, from all corners of the world, but what they all have in common is they all cross the same finish line in New York. We look forward to celebrating that moment with them.”
Sarah Cummins, head of business development and strategic partnerships for the New York Road Runners, which organizes the race, called the All Roads Lead to NYC campaign “inspirational and heroic — a true embodiment of TCS New York City Marathon day for our 50,000 runners. We look forward to continuing to bring our partnership with New Balance to life in innovative and inspiring ways.”
New Balance has also commissioned local artists to create murals in each of the five boroughs that will celebrate the marathon through the lens of that borough: David Park in Staten Island (827 Castleton Avenue), Doves in Queens (30th Avenue and Wellington Court), Wayne in the Bronx (Bruckner Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue), Ron English in Manhattan (1st Avenue and St. Marks) and AvOne in Brooklyn.
And lastly, on race day, New Balance will create the Mile 20 Block Party with live music, digital screens broadcasting inspirational messages and a cheer zone. Mile 20 is often the most difficult part of the race for a marathoner.
Last month, New Balance unveiled its official apparel and footwear collection for the event, which attracts more than 50,000 runners from 125 countries. Key pieces include a Marathon Windcheater jacket for $130, special footwear models with New York-centric details and branding, and a premium, limited-edition halo capsule collection with pieces that retail for up to $250.
New Balance took over the apparel and footwear sponsorship this year from Asics, which had held the role for 25 years. As part of the new 10-year deal, Boston-based New Balance also became a partner of the NYRR Foundation and will sponsor events, programs and youth-running initiatives throughout the year. It also built a running hub at the NYRR headquarters near Columbus Circle.