I haven’t owned a pair of New Balance shoes since the ‘90s. They were my starter “premium” sneakers.
Over time I traded up to “real” running shoes. First Brooks; now Asics. New Balance was relegated to a distant, dated, and dusty folder in my consideration set.
I recently re-experienced New Balance, by accident, when I stayed at a Westin and took advantage of the hotel’s Workout Gear Lending Program, in which they lend guests fresh, clean workout gear if you forget to pack right. I was pleasantly surprised. They looked and felt great. New Balance had rediscovered its design and performance mojo.
Later that same week I was out for a run when a guy blew by me (not hard to do) wearing a snazzy pair of electric blue running shoes. Sure enough, he was wearing New Balance. I doubt I would have registered the brand name if not for my experience at the Westin.
A few days later I noticed an ad for New Balance while flipping through Wired. I'm quite sure that New Balance ads have been trying to get my attention for years. But its ads were invisible to me because our brain is the original spam blocker. My first-hand experience made me notice the ad.
The insight: If a customer knows they don't like prunes, running ads to make prunes seem hip and cool isn't likely to work. Sampling the all-new lemon-zest prunes at my grocery store will likely be more effective. If tasty, I may then actually notice and “consume” your ad.
When repositioning a brand, showcase new behaviors, not just new brand messages. Customers judge brands by what they do, not simply by what they say. Create experiences that allow them to reach their own conclusion — e.g., sampling, public displays, VR experiences, trusted peer reviews. This sets up the advertising to reinforce these newly formed perceptions.