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New Balance drives in-store visits with mobile game

August 10, 2011

A screen grab of the Urban Dash app

Sporting apparel retailer New Balance is driving consumers to its recently opened flagship New York store with a scavenger hunt campaign where consumers can win free athletic shoes and other prizes.

Using augmented reality, gamers collect virtual batons around the city via an iPhone application and race to the New Balance store to claim their pair of special-edition shoes. The promotion will run through Sept. 10.

“The campaign combines New Balance’s long-standing heritage in running with the convenience and accessibility of mobile technology,” said Tracy Knauer, manager of channel marketing at New Balance, Boston.

“With a goal of getting people moving, what better utility to use than a mobile phone that can go anywhere you go?” she said.

Baton ruse
For each day of the promotion, the New Balance store is giving away NB NYC 574 shoes. On weekdays, 20 pairs of shoes are given away, and on weekends 30 pairs are up for grabs.

To play, users download the Urban Dash app from Apple’s App Store.

Gamers then track down virtual batons around the city to claim their prize by viewing all available batons on a map.

Once within 100 feet of a baton, users grab the virtual batons and race to the New Balance store.

To add a competitive edge to the game, users can steal batons from others until they are redeemed at the store.

“The game is about finding a virtual baton and holding onto it for as long as you can before redeeming it at the store for a prize,” Ms. Knauer said.

As a grand prize, the user with the most batons at the end of the campaign will win a gold baton  valued at $20,000.  

Running for it
New Balance’s campaign is using location-based services to engage with consumers, which makes sense based on the brand’s reputation of active users.

“As an athletic footwear, apparel and accessories company, we are very focused on getting people moving,” Ms. Knauer said.

“We want to inspire them to get active, encourage them to stay active, and enjoy the personal reward that comes with meeting one’s individual athletic and fitness goals,” she said.

“Using technologies that serve people who are active – and always on the move – is important to our overall strategy.”

Additionally, the New Balance campaign can arguably be considered effective because it has a simple message that uses a recognizable icon any runner can relate to – the baton.

“Anyone who has participated in a relay race knows rule No. 1 is to never drop the baton,” Ms. Knauer said.

“Rule No. 2 is to run as fast as you can,” she said.

“We wanted to bring that same track-and-field experience to the streets of New York by leveraging GPS and mapping technology in a seamless application that would welcome every borough into this exciting virtual baton race.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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