DRILL, Tokyo / NEW BALANCE / 2022

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Case Film
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Why is this work relevant for Sport Entertainment?

What if I could save local food producers affected by the covid-19 pandemic by RUNNING?

And what if I could even get a reward for the distance I ran?

In the summer of the second year during a stay-at-home order, New Balance Japan launched a first-of-its-kind campaign to bond seemingly unrelated local farmers and city runners.


In the summer of 2021, New Balance launched a new running shoe.

The Fresh Foam was developed for long distance running. However, the world is in the midst of the Stay at Home order. Everyone refrained from long distance travel, gyms were closed and races were cancelled across the board. City runners were not even motivated to run, let alone buy a new pair of shoes. Farmers across the country, affected by the widespread restaurant closures and other businesses, were also in dire.

Describe the creative idea

We came up with the idea by turning such adversity into opportunity. The idea is to motivate people to run. To run as if they were returning to their hometown, which they haven’t been able to return to for over a year.

Runners run on their usual running course around their home with the intention of running to their hometown. People can register the distance they have travelled on the app, and then complete the course, aiming to cover the same distance to their hometown. If they succeed, their hometown will reward them with a local food product. Calling it the world's first campaign to bond city runners with local farmers and fishermen, campaign title is naturally a wordplay with the name of Fresh Foam.

Describe the strategy

Due to the growing health-consciousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, statistical data existed showing that approximately 68% of beginners stopped running within six months because they could not survive the harsh Japanese summer, although they started running in the early spring when exercise is more fun. We wanted to have an event where people could enjoy running together, but we were asked to avoid density. On the other hand, to share the joy of running, it is better to have a common goal set, so we thought about how to create motivation to enjoy running alone and what kind of goal would encourage participants. The campaign was launched to give runners 'FARM-FRESH' product, which is a play on the word 'FRESH FOAM' in Japanese. The approach of how the distance runners covered would support the producers who had been struggling with pandemic made the project a joyful one for all participants.

Describe the execution

The launch event was held on 10th August 2021. It actually recorded the highest temperature of the year in Tokyo and attracted a lot of media attention as a 'FRESH' campaign to overcome the heat. For a limited time, a marché displaying real fresh vegetables was opened at the event venue. New Balance shops nationwide and LCS storefronts featured visuals of real-life producers holding Fresh Foam sneakers with the fresh product they actually grow, creating a buzz about the unprecedented image. Meanwhile, the campaign website is linked to hashtags posted on twitter by participants who have run, so that the running status of other participants can always be shared. The campaign period lasts for one month, during which participants can win different ranks of produce depending on the distance they have run. Vegetables, fish and meat equivalent to 5431,7 km completed were collected from producers all over Japan.

Describe the outcome

According to the brand, the Fresh Foam sales jumped nearly 650% year-on-year. Despite the campaign being launched during the Tokyo Olympics, it was covered by 251 media outlets and earned media worth $2.37millions. It was also published in agricultural newspapers, lifestyle and marketing strategy media with the background of this event, "Supporting producers across Japan". We were able to obtain publication in each context other than the sports context. The campaign was spread through posts generated by runners on SNS. It has created a sustainable system whereby runners can enjoy running while sharing on SNS, which motivates them to continue running with other runners , and as a result, they can receive products from their local market. Not only helping to reduce food loss for farmers who were struggling with the imposed eating-out ban, but also brought farmers and runners into direct contact with each other in a new way.

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