The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Authenticity Comes In Many Shapes And Sizes. Apparently …
April 18, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, China, Communication Strategy, Sport

I get a bit pissed off when people say ‘brands have to be authentic’ because it implies some brands choose to be inauthentic, which is plainly bollocks.

I also accept that in these competitive times, you have to think more boldly to try and stand out in a cluttered marketplace.

However, I question whether this move by New Balance China is the best way to demonstrate their brand credentials … unless they’ve discovered that having a [very ambiguous, not to mention very old] association with a member of the British Royal Family is more aspirational to runners than New Balance’s genuine and proven association with millions of athletes.

Of course, given I work with NIKE I may be missing the point.

I can’t wait to read their effectiveness case study.


25 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Isn’t this an example of a brand choosing to be inauthentic?

Comment by john

Well said.

Comment by George

That’s a good point. Bugger.

Comment by Rob

Old Balance.

Comment by George

Charles massive ears would counter the benefits of running with sneakers. This is an anti-celebrity endorsement.

Comment by DH

And the guy making the shoes doesn’t smack of athletic genius either.

Comment by DH

Could be worse, could be an athlete getting their performance enhancing drugs.

Comment by Billy Whizz

That would be better, it would mean professional athletes use their shoes.

Comment by DH

look at mr fucking corporate toady.

Comment by andy@cynic

New Balance started it …

Comment by Rob

I think New Balance do think that in China, being associated with royalty is more aspirational than being associated with runners. Short-term profits at the expense of long term athletic reputation.

Comment by Pete

You might be right … but as you said, the cost to their reputation with ‘real runners’, may be something they’ll end up regretting. But the person behind this decision won’t care … they’ll of left after a year for a bigger job based on the sales increase they [may] have achieved during their time in charge.

Comment by Rob

Assuming people care that much anymore.

Comment by Pete

have they fucking ever.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s assuming New Balance makes running shoes and not fashion accessories that one wears on his feet.

Comment by Vadim Poulet

That’s an argument that has been thrown at every sports brand over the years and while the viewpoint of that is ultimately in the hands of the accuser, it would be a very dangerous play for the brand – given the effort and cost it has taken to [1] achieve their credibility in the field of sports and [2] the huge competitive landscape they’d be walking into, which is far greater than the [admittedly still huge] sports category.

Unless they have no credibility anymore and are just doing desperate things for desperate times. Which I don’t think is an issue for New Balance. Or it isn’t yet.

Comment by Rob

To be perfectly clear, I think and would be pretty sure the majority of their business comes from their classical shoes worn every day in the city. It’s fashion in the same sense than Stan Smithes are (I know you’re a Birkenstock guy but bear with me). So I think the viewpoint is not so much in the hands of the accuser as much as it is on the feet of people in the cities.

So I interpret the picture as a “traditionnal, royal warrant blablabla we’ve been around forever” which is aspirational and trying to distinguish the brand from Nike, for example. And while the fashion landscape is more competitive than sports, I personnally don’t perceive NB as very much credible in the latter field, in spite of their efforts (Football ! Liverpool !), and think they may have some kind of edge in comfortable fashionable looking versatile footwear. Or at least they are perceived as having one since they are everywhere.

But I must say, though I think I can understand why they would do that, I don’t think it works very well.

Comment by Vadim Poulet

Hey Vadim, a quick look at the New Balance China website (and use of Google translate) tells me New Balance are definitely still a contemporary sports performance brand.

You might not think they credibility in this field, but what that says is they have not done their marketing effectively since the last 30+ years have been spent promoting sports/sports innovations.

I couldn’t find Prince Charles featured in any other promotional material which makes the use of an old photo of him in their store even more confusing. Except it shouldn’t be because I am sure Chinese youth have higher aspirations and taste these days.

Comment by Pete

With the amount of people who wear nike but don’t appear to engage in any physical activity, I would argue it would not be very smart for New Balance to position themselves as a fashionable and versatile shoe manufacture either.
By the way Robert, I love the Kobe goodbye spot. Excellent.

Comment by George

who. the. fuck. cares.

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy FTW.

Comment by DH

It’s good when new people comment. It almost makes this blog interesting. Thanks Vadim and Tom K.

Comment by DH

I read this as an aspirational play. Those aren’t athletic shoes, they’re fashion footwear.

“New Balance makes shoes in Britain*. So it’s a luxury item, not like the Nike crap that gets made in China or Vietnam. You know — Where you live.”


Comment by Tom K

To double-confirm, the quotes (” “) around that second paragraph were meant to include italics to indicate that’s the message, not directly what I’m trying to say.

Comment by Tom K

Hi Tom. Your comment is similar to Vadim’s above you … and my response is similar to his too, ha.

And the whole ‘British thing’ is no where near as big as it once was and if it was, they should be doing more than putting up some old photo of Prince Charles.

Comment by Rob

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