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Oh… New Balance (Sigh)

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It’s a big race weekend in the runDisney community.  Most would say the BIGGEST race weekend of all as the Walt Disney World Marathon happens on Sunday.

Many friends are there or are on their way.  My newsfeed and running groups were filled with two big things, both related to New Balance shoes.

One elicited joy and excitement:

nb ariel

2016 runDisney New Balance limited edition Ariel shoes

The other one did not.

It elicited concerns of elitism, not to mention a complete 180-degree turn from the majority of runners in the runDisney culture.

NB 2

I often wonder…

What the HELL are these companies thinking?  Are they so vast that divisions aren’t aware of each other?  Or so narrowly minded to think that their consumers won’t notice the mixed messages?  Maybe they thought that runDisney consumers don’t go on their website since the only way you can buy cute Ariel inspired shoes is at the expos?

However you want to spin it, it’s dumb from a PR and marketing perspective.

The ad itself isn’t even the big problem for me.  Though, to be clear, I don’t like it, but I won’t say it’s entirely wrong.  There are plenty of runners with that attitude.  I see it every day.  Different strokes; I’m not wired that way.

While I think this type of shame marketing is a bunch of crap, hey, if that’s the message a brand wants to share, that’s fine.  I can choose not to support them.  Huzzah!  

It looks like I’m not alone, though.  Plenty of people chimed in on the New Balance Facebook page.

Here are a few of the responses:

NB 3

You got caught trying to double dip here, New Balance.  You can’t court the new runner who maybe hasn’t even competed yet while calling them out behind their backs.

Releasing shoes with a $140 price tag at the runDisney expo to the very people you are now demeaning is cold, yo.


To their credit, New Balance made changes.  While I didn’t see direct responses to concerns on Facebook, I did see this replacement ad on the website this morning.

NB 1

There you go, New Balance.

Much better.

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Sunday 10th of January 2016

Hmmm...I hadn't seen that ad. I can't say I find it offensive. They're encouraging people to push themselves, and sometimes a good way to push yourself is to use the person next to you as a measure. It pretty much encapsulates the CrossFit philosophy. Compete with the next guy in the moment, and in doing so, you are pushing yourself to do more/better/faster...pick your adjective. I've said before that I think runDisney participants are in real danger of becoming a parody of themselves. Yes, there are first time participants and people who are overcoming different personal things out there because it has the reputation of being an easier and slower endurance event. Unfortunately people are taking that to mean they can be lazy and do things half-way. That's a bad mindset to be in.


Tuesday 12th of January 2016

I used to weigh 406 pounds.

I have finished 4 runDisney half marathons, and will compete in my first challenge this weekend. You may see me as a fat/slow back of the packer, but I am super proud of my accomplishments. Sorry you feel I am making a mockery of the event.


Thursday 7th of January 2016

Yuk... that's obnoxious. I particularly hated the part about "Sometimes 'they' change into different clothes and increase their activity level..." I'm so confused - I thought that was a good thing? Ppptttthhh!!! And the 'apology' 2nd try didn't fix anything, in my opinion. It's still all about competition.

Let's say, hypothetically, NB is trying to reach a PURE ATHLETE portion of the market with this ad. What the heck percent of the population meets *that* criteria, and has a physique like the girl in the black and white running photo? Good grief, do the math.

I love your bravery and candor, Patty. Keep it coming.


Thursday 7th of January 2016

Girl, that's exactly what I was thinking with all this. It just didn't quite add up for me. But, hey, I run in Hoka so I am not their target anyway. Ha! Thanks, Tami! I hope to see you at Princess this year!


Thursday 7th of January 2016

I think as New Balance has a wide range of customers, they also have a wide range of marketing strategies. Why does every ad have to appeal to everyone? They have the demographic that appreciates the Ariel shoes, and the demographic that appreciates the "hard core athlete" spin. I don't see it as shame marketing.

I found your reference to "skinny twig bitches" in your Black Friday post way more offensive than a athletic apparel company trying to appeal to a specific sector of their customers.

Just my $0.02


Thursday 7th of January 2016

It was the timing of it that bothered most people. At runDisney events runners of all types are welcomed and celebrated as athletes. One of the primary sponsors basically said, nope, you aren't! I stand by that being the wrong message- especially at the wrong time. You are correct: there are all kinds of runners and all kinds of ways to reach them. Maybe the timing could have been better?

I apologize for my comment; it was a pop culture reference that apparently did not translate well. Insensitive on my part; thank you for pointing it out.