As of mid-October, New Balance Fitness Equipment will begin airing $2 million-plus in national television advertising that will direct interested consumers to specialty retail stores near them.
The TV campaign, focusing on brand awareness and not any one product, will air on such stations as BBC, Lifetime, DISH and Soap Network, among a long list of others. It will slowly roll out in October, focus on the November through January holiday selling season, and taper off through March.
"Not only does it plant in people's minds, 'Wow, look at that treadmill,'â€¦it also funnels people directly to specialty retailers," said Dave Petersilge, vice president of sales for Fitness Quest, the licensor of the New Balance name for the equipment line. Like New Balance shoes, the New Balance Fitness Equipment focuses on comfort and performance, and uses some similar technology, such as Abzorb cushioning. In company research, the New Balance name was well-known among consumers and was connected to comfort.
"We want to let the world know New Balance also makes a heck of a treadmill, a heck of a bike and a heck of an elliptical," he added. "We want to establish the brand."
The "short form" spots, running 30 to 60 seconds each, are created using high-quality film, rather than video. The series will have three basic spots, each focusing on each of the company's three different lines. They will be aired nationally in all metropolitan areas.
In addition to the TV spots, New Balance has also begun running high-profile, brand awareness ads in national magazines -- also to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars -- that include the likes of Men's Fitness, Skymall, Shape and Runners' World.
"Who else is going to be dumping a couple of million dollars of media specifically to drive footprints into stores?" asked Petersilge. "Who? We want to come out with guns a' blazin'."
The ads are centered on brand awareness and not on selling. Each includes eye-catching shots of people working out on different pieces of equipment and displays the New Balance website (www.newbalancefitness.com). The web site includes a store locator that allows people to search by area code, plus an 800 number so customers can speak with operators trained to ask about a caller's goals and needs and direct them to the appropriate equipment and retailer.
"If someone has an interest," Petersilge said, "they can go about it in different ways. We've covered all of the bases."
SNEWSÂ® View: As Petersilge said, what more can you ask for than consumers wandering into your store and asking to see that New Balance treadmill or elliptical they saw on TV? This is a goldmine. Sure, the retailer may sell the New Balance piece. Or not. They may even sell another brand. Heck, if a consumer seeks a specific retailer, that person might become a long-term customer for all kinds of equipment and gear down the road -- assuming the retailer truly mines the opportunity to educate the person and become the source for fitness and health information. The only company that has attempted something similar is Nautilus, but not in this kind of seasonally focused, brand-awareness style. We'll be very interested in hearing feedback as this ad campaign progresses.