Campaigns Editor's pick

New Balance pub only accepts miles ran as currency

New Balance is incentivizing people to go for a run with a London pub where the only currency accepted is miles ran.

The pub, called “The Runaway”, is part of the sportswear brand’s Everybody’s Race campaign, and aims to support and empower runners as they train for the upcoming London marathon, happening on April 28.

Participating runners must log in their miles on running app Strava, and all miles logged go towards the Runaway Card ,a digital credit cart that can be used at the venue. They are given a set of four incremental running challenges in the lead up to the marathon, such as the current challenge, where running 20 miles can ‘buy’ two drinks, and 40 miles, three. All miles are logged into the Runway Card, a digital credit card that can be used at the pub at specific dates.

The pub is meant to act as an “escape and reward when needed, and a hub for the running community to come together and support each other,” says Samantha Matthews, senior marketing manager at New Balance UK & Ireland. Also featured downstairs at the pub is a gym, where runners can do complementary exercises like weights.

New Balance’s “Runaway” challenges on the Strava app

New Balance has been diversifying its approach to engaging with consumers as the fight for the top spot in the sportswear market shows no signs of slowing down, dominated by Nike and adidas. Last year, it deployed AI to spot trendy NYFW goers and reward them with free sneakers.

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Campaigns Editor's pick technology

New Balance deploys AI to spot trendy NYFW attendees 

New Balance
New Balance

New Balance is deploying artificial intelligence to track the outfits of New York Fashion Week showgoers, rewarding those whose style truly stands out.

On September 6, the sportswear company will set up a booth in the Soho neighborhood with cameras facing out in every direction, in order to scan as many people as possible walking the streets. The cameras will track outfits in real-time, analyzing features such as colors, patterns, shapes and styles, using AI to identify the ‘anomalies and exceptions to the norm’.

New Balance representatives will then approach passersby who are identified as truly stylish, and reward them with a pair of the brand’s Fresh Foam Cruz Nubuck sneakers.

“The idea is to celebrate people who go left when everybody else is going right,” says Allie Tsavdarides, director of global marketing at New Balance, of the “Be the Exception” campaign. “During a week where there is incredible emphasis and excitement around new trends and fashion, New Balance wants to celebrate individuals who are expressing themselves in independent and distinctive ways.”

The experience, called “Real Time Exception Spotting”, will be powered by TensorFlow, which will gather information about what people are wearing, in most part devoid of human intervention or bias. In the run-up to fashion week, a team of computer scientists has been going around the city collecting baseline data about fashion trends in order to feed the system.

According to Footwear News, the brand plans to use the technology again in Toronto, Stockholm and Madrid over the upcoming months. The use of it could also potentially be deployed in other scenarios such as at its own stores, with such data eventually helping inform R&D, says the brand. In line with recent concerns around data protection, the brand will not be collecting or storing any personal data, nor will it be deploying facial recognition, it notes.

New Balance’s “Be the Exception” campaign aligns with the brand’s strategy of speaking to those who sit outside fashion and don’t follow trends. As sportswear giants Nike and Adidas fight for the top hypebeast spot, by purposively removing itself from the race, New Balance is potentially positioning itself as a timeless and trusted alternative.

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