Monday, April 18, 2011

Local Advertising: New Balance’s Excellence Campaign for the 2011 Boston Marathon

As any Bostonian can tell you, Marathon Monday, or ‘Patriot’s Day’, is one of the most celebrated days of the year in our beloved city, right behind St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas.  And as anyone who has ever ran the marathon can tell you, completing it, or for that matter qualifying for it, is one of the greatest honors a runner can hold.  The accomplishment is nothing short of excellence.

Excellent Trained All Winter; New Balance
One of several concepts of the campaign, this one depicting a runner
training through Boston's record setting and harsh winter of '10-'11,
along  the Charles' River, a popular training spot for runners.
Therefore, due to the high populace of the world’s elite runners and running enthusiasts alike during April in Boston, its no surprise this time of year is also home to some of the best sports marketing campaigns, in an effort to win over the hearts (and most importantly wallet shares) of a market that accounted for $61M of retail sales in February 2011.

For the past six years I’ve had the pleasure of calling Boston home and during this time I’ve seen an impressive array of campaigns during marathon season. And while Adidas has been the official sponsor of the marathon since 1992, claiming the rights to produce the coveted marathon jacket, Boston-based New Balance’s “Let’s Make Excellence Happen” campaign is also nothing sort of excellence this year.

The excellence campaign, created by Arnold Worldwide, features a series of highly relatable, inspirational images and slogans that showcase the excellence the runners have accomplished in their grueling winter training, along with several landmarks along the popular race route. The campaign is tied to the excellence of New Balance’s newest light running shoe, the New Balance 890.

The images were placed on various high-traffic areas throughout the city, such as popular T-stops and bus shelters. New Balance then did an excellent job of closing the loop by pointing all of the promotions to their digital campaign in an easy to remember URL (, which promotes the 890 shoe, while providing in-depth running, spectator, and visitor tips at the same time.

Excellent Screams Through Wellesley; Excellent Makes Molehills out of Newton Hills; Excellent Loves Heartbreak; New Balance
Several more of the "Let's Make Excellence Happen" concepts on display at Boston's Park Street Station,  one of the 4 busiest stations in the city. Concept #1 plays up the notorious section of screaming girls at the all-female Wellesley College, while concepts 2 &3 touch on the challenge of making it up Heartbreak Hill at mile 17, which is location in Newton. 
Congratulations to New Balance for making the home-town crowd proud and more importantly hats off to the +25,000 runners who completed today’s grueling 26.2-miles.

Specifically, congratulations to one of my nearest and dearest friends, Chris Conte, who finished his 3rd Boston Marathon today as a member of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team, setting a new course personal record for himself. Since joining the DFMC team three years ago, Chris has raised over $15,000 for cancer research, a feat as admirable and excellent as the course itself.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Best of: April Fools Day 2011

While April Fool’s Day hoaxes are nothing new to the world of marketing, with everyone from Google announcing job opportunities for a new research center on the moon, to the British supermarket chain Tesco premiering a new genetically modified whistling carrot, HootSuite stole the show this April 1st  with their 2-pronged email campaign intended for confidential & internal eyes only. 

As a daily user of HootSuite, a Twitter platform that allows for team scheduling, collaboration and moderation across the social media site, I frequently get email campaigns from Ryan Holmes, HootSuite’s CEO.  As much as I praise the platform for all the time and hassle it saves me in scheduling and monitoring Tweets, I simply just didn’t have the time to read his latest announcement email this past Friday morning, nor did I have the time to read or digest the subject line, “HootSuite Pivot - CONFIDENTIAL & INTERNAL” (although now I wish I had!). 

Later, on Friday afternoon just after 4:00 pm EST, I received another simple, two-sentence, text-formatted email from Mr. Holmes saying “The prior email entitled HootSuite Pivot was sent to you in error. It was intended to be sent only to our Board, Investors and Advisors and is highly confidential. Please delete and ignore”. 

Falling prey to believing this message, what was the next thing I did? I went straight back into my deleted box and searched for Mr. Holmes’s email from the morning to see what the big secret was. After locating the email and reading their announcement about moving away from their core business platform to launch Happy Owls, I finally realized how gullible I was, but was still highly impressed with the innovative and impressive marketing behind the prank.  

As an email marketer myself, I should have realized the chance of this type of large-scale error occurring was nearly impossible, but in my defense, it was late on a Friday afternoon after a very long week, I forgot what day of the year it was, and I also frequently do receive correction emails clarifying everything from time, date, and/or price mistakes to mass emails sent accidentally.

I haven’t seen any reports on HootSuite's open or click-through rates on this particularly impressive email campaign, but my gut tells me it was well above average on the first launch and received an even more unprecedented spike after the second one was released. 

Hats off to HootSuite on this impressive campaign!