New Balance's Urban Dash App Engages Runners - Event Marketer

New Balance’s Urban Dash App Engages Runners

DB_NewBalance_2011 ETA
Year: 2011

There are few things smart phone-carrying consumers love more than their favorite apps. Whether it’s for fun or function, ain’t much an app can’t do. Yet despite their popularity, an event marketing app has to work a lot harder to win a piece of the passion consumers have for their everyday tech addictions. A killer marketing app has to map back to the brand’s core message, be simple and intuitive to use and drive consumer behavior—all while making it fun and compelling to use.

New Balance broke new ground in the realm of customized event apps when it opened its first North American Experience store in the Flatiron district of New York City this summer. To get the buzz building and people through the doors, the brand challenged runners throughout the five boroughs to race for the chance to win free shoes, gift cards and, for the grand prize winner, a solid gold New Balance Baton worth $20,000. The four-week-long mobile game, called Urban Dash, was available for the iPhone from the Apple app store and at

Once on players’ phones, the app used GPS to show the user’s position in relationship to virtual “batons” dropped all over the city. To pick up the baton, the runner had to get within 100 feet of it, where the app automatically recognized the baton and “picked it up.” Then, the consumer ran like mad to get to the new store before another player stole it. For the steal, players had to get within 100 feet of another player, allowing the app to “steal” the baton, and take off.

Once someone made it back to the store with a baton intact on the phone and in his or her virtual possession, they won a pair of exclusive 574 NY New Balance shoes. Then the brand invited them to go back out there and get another baton. For the quest for the second through sixth batons, players received a $75 gift card for each one. Finally, the one runner who collected the most batons by the end of the contest won the Golden Baton. To boost buzz across social media networks, the brand invited participants and fans to tweet their race progress with the hashtag #nbnydash and post pics and updates to

The app helped New Balance create a fully integrated experience that combined the brand’s long heritage in running with cutting-edge mobile technology. The virtual race not only brought a unique track and field experience to the streets of New York and helped generate interest and publicity in the new flagship’s opening, it literally had consumers running all over town and—cha-ching!—through the doors of the store to complete the challenge. Now that’s an app to fall in love with.

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