Kawhi's Title, L.A. Move Helping Boost New Balance Basketball
New Balance is "no longer hurting for basketball exposure" since signing Clippers F Kawhi Leonard as an endorser last season prior to his title run with the Raptors, according to Andrew Greif of the L.A. TIMES. For a company "seeking to raise awareness about its revived basketball division and create space within a footwear industry dominated by entrenched brands," Leonard has been a "sports marketing dream ... and one New Balance hopes to capitalize on." Fans watching last night's season-opening Lakers-Clippers game saw an "ad campaign centered on the decision of Leonard, a Southern California native, to join the Clippers in free agency in July." The campaign, called "Reign Over L.A." and produced by The Rec League, L.A., "takes Leonard from a basketball court to a driving tour" around L.A. New Balance Global Dir of Consumer Marketing Patrick Cassidy said that the company's 10- and 15-year plans "never began with becoming 'the No. 1 basketball brand in terms of market share globally overnight.'" He added that instead of "targeting dozens of endorsers, New Balance might sign between only five and 10 over the next decade." Cassidy said that was why Leonard's "immediate championship run wearing New Balances provided instant credibility and exposure" (L.A. TIMES, 10/23).
MR. ROBOT: YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Ashbourne notes Leonard, who has a "very unusual kind of marketability," stars in a "bizarre 'Terminator' ad" alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and teammate Paul George. In the ad, Leonard is "actually slightly less wooden than usual." Ashbourne: "If anything, it's probably Paul George whose delivery stands out as being awkward when he defends his teammate's laugh." The spot "succeeds" because it "hits on so many iconic Kawhi moments" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/23).