New Balance Nabbed Marvin Harrison Jr. and Now Enters the Football Arena

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Source: New Balance M2002RDA

New Balance isn’t a stranger to standing in a room they haven’t been in before and speaking out of turn. The brand has successfully navigated the original futbol world. New Balance reentered basketball after years away. When they cleared their collective throats, they took the bold stance of featuring Kawhi Leonard returning to Los Angeles with a crown dangling on the mirror of his car. They then assembled a roster of athletes with players who landed NBA Championships.

This year they have decided to push their footwear tech through the line on the turf of American Football. They signed a legacy athlete in Marvin Harrison Jr. who immediately connected New Balance to football royalty as the elder played with Peyton Manning for the Colts. Now the brand is making The Prodigy and The Fortress cleats available just in time for the 2024 season.

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Why Is This Niche Important?

Football is finite. The cleats can’t be worn off the field. The worries around head injuries have decreased the pool of talent competing. Why is this move significant? American football remains the most viewed sport in the country. The Super Bowl is an institution and Friday Nights across America, Saturday afternoons and Sundays are controlled by the fanaticism associated with the game. The last bastion of advertising in real time lies in football viewership.

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Football is the one sport that doesn’t cater to digital chunking. Football is a social sport consumed inside of taverns and bars. Nike has owned American football via sponsorship of the NFL and their partnerships with the best programs in college football. New Balance has been unable to enter this arena because they didn’t serve the sport. Without the product, New Balance disappears from sports during a critical time of the year, summer through the start of winter.

The demographic competing in the sport is primarily African American which has given Nike a continued advantage with athletes and the culture. Although cleats can’t be worn anywhere outside of the field (track, soccer and baseball are the same) being absent from the competition has been a flaw in New Balance’s growth strategy.

With the entrance into football equipment New Balance has the opportunity to be a part of the community that is football. They can now sponsor high school teams from head to toe. They can possibly nab a couple of colleges. They will undoubtedly become intrinsically tied to Marvin Harrison, Jr., Chase Young and Will Anderson Jr. Expect those Nike Swoosh jerseys to be complimented by 574s and 550s on the feet of fans at sports bars throughout the country. Expect a grassroots approach into football similar to how New Balance has worked with The Bullis School in track and field.

Should Nike be worried? Yep… and Under Armour should be extremely nervous.

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