Coming one year after the fatal bombings, the 2014 Boston Marathon promised to be an emotional event and a focus of media attention. Athletic-shoe brand New Balance wasn’t an official sponsor of the race—rival Adidas was the official footwear sponsor—but it still wanted to show support for runners, fans, and its hometown of Boston.
To do so, New Balance and agency Upshot created a We Are Boston microsite that sold commemorative “Runners for Boston” T-shirts. The company donated $10 from the sale of each shirt to the One Fund Boston, which raised money for victims and families of the 2013 marathon bombings. The site also featured a video in which people shared why they loved Boston, and New Balance invited visitors to post their own photos and messages on the site and social media using the #LoveBoston hashtag. Transit takeovers at a dozen transit stops and outdoor ads reinforced the message. New Balance also introduced a limited-edition Boston Marathon shoe in its Boylston Street store (conveniently located near the race finish line), online, and at installations in retailers along the marathon route.
The Boylston Street store had its largest single sales day ever and sold out of the Boston Marathon shoe, as did one of its affiliate retailers, with others enjoying 90% sell-through. Overall combined sales beat the forecast by 52%. And runners and Bostonites alike no doubt felt the love: Nearly 7,000 tweets and retweets were tagged #LoveBoston, as were more than 10,000 Instagram photos.