New Balance

New CEO and a push into basketball

This month, New Balance has signed a multi-year deal with two-time Defensive Player of the year and NBA Champion, Kawhi Leonard. This is a bold move by the sportswear brand to try to make inroads into a sport dominated by Nike, adidas and Under Armour.

New Balance company named Joe Preston as its new President and CEO last month. He’s been with New Balance in 1995, joining as a senior product manager and most recently served as Chief Commercial Officer. He replaces Rob DeMartini on New Year’s Eve who has held the role for 12 years.

Basketball: The NBA has been loosening trainer restrictions for on-court shoes, so naturally, New Balance and other brands, such as Puma - who earlier this year teamed up with Jay-Z to relaunch its Basketball programme - are hoping set to capitalise on this. IN December Nike released its first pair of non-lace basketball trainers. Consumers favour non-performance trainers, and we expect it will increase NPD investment in a bid to re-establish its basketball offering. Sky Sports recently announced a four-year broadcast and multi-media partnership with the NBA in the UK, we anticipate it will focus on boosting brand appeal among UK consumers.

Esports: The F1 New Balance Esports Series partnership is designed to widen appeal among its main audience of teens, 20s and early 30s alongside the exponential growth in esports. 70 percent of viewers tuning in to watch the final were below 34 years old. As part of its push here, it wants to drive awareness of its new Otruska product line.

Buy British: Despite being very much an American brand, New Balance products are manufactured in the UK and have been for the past 35 years. We think this will continue to be a story it looks to tell in partnerships and activation in 2019. The collaboration with Paul Smith is designed to further highlight its message of quality, and its ‘Made in the UK’ initiative released limited editions of trainers and football boots.

Football: Still early days for New Balance but it has recently increased investment, working with the likes of Liverpool and Celtic. During this year’s World Cup, it used partnerships with Costa Rica and Panama to promote its football-specific products.

Running: Still central to the identity of New Balance, and it works with several global marathons, from New York to London – we know the partnerships team is always interested in activation and branding opportunities at these kinds of events. It has a wide audience here, ranging from elite athletes, general enthusiasts and entry-level runners, something to tie proposals in with. Ahead of January training, New Balance have launched a ‘2019 Virgin London Marathon Acceptance Range’ of running kit.

Partnerships: Liverpool FC, Celtic FC, FC Porto, FC Dynamo Kyiv, Panama, Costa Rica, England & Wales Cricket Board, Cricket South Africa, The F1 New Balance Esports Series London Marathon, New York Marathon, Paul Smith.

Key decision-makers:

Brand Director EMEA Region Graham Dicken connect

General Manager - Global Football Kenny McCallum connect

Events & Partnership Manager – UK Niamh McBrideconnect