The New Balance campaign, Football’s New Wave, was created by the ZAK agency for the United States

Each of the chapters of this documentary saga lasts about five minutes

All episodes of this series can be found on the brand’s official YouTube channel

There is a logical, but unfortunate, phenomenon in the advertising industry. When an idea or campaign is successful, many companies tend to imitate the general concept, trying to replicate that success and benefit their business objectives. Many times, an attempt is made to adapt the narrative to the specific case of each company. And if it sometimes leads to strategies that are different enough to be innovative, they often end up creating clichés.

All this context is relevant for the new New Balance campaign. This company has just released a series of documentary short films where, of course, its sports fashion items are prominently displayed. But it also aims to connect at a much deeper level with the audience through an exploration of how soccer has transformative power in people. This, over three very different scenarios.

Thus, the campaign explores the evolution of the soccer community in Atlanta, United States, a nascent discipline among other much more popular sports. It also reviews the case of Tokyo, Japan, where this community is also in a culture clash between eastern and western communities. Finally, the documentary travels throughout the United Kingdom to identify some of the deepest roots of this show in the country.

A problem of this campaign for the rest of the industry

It should be noted that New Balance is not anywhere near the only one that has approached the most documentary style to promote sports retail. Adidas recently also released a movie about the history of female boxers in Cuba, who, due to a macho law imposed several years ago, cannot go to the Olympics. And for Nike, these narratives have even been consolidated under the unique campaign The Birthplace of Dreams, featuring athletes from around the world.

Related Notes

All these examples reveal the fundamental problem that plagues advertising within the sports retail sector. True, these kinds of documentaries demonstrate a deeper connection between brands and their consumers than a simple business relationship. Each campaign is also solid in its own way, all of them of high quality and with a narrative that more than meets its objective. Not to mention that they put their community at the center.

The thing is that, with each new retail documentary campaign, the use of these productions for commercial purposes is becoming a total cliche. The challenge is not even genre, which can be very flexible and have endless interpretations and performances. Really the problem is that each one of these spots and productions seem cut the same. There are no characteristics that really distinguish the work of one or another brand, beyond the logo at the end.

How to give more identity to advertising?

Of course, sports retail companies are not the first to make this serious mistake. At the start of the pandemic, each campaign seemed the same, to the point of attracting ridicule from various creatives and marketers. Microsoft and Apple came up with very similar concepts for mockumentary-style ads, with just a few weeks apart. And in popular festivities such as Day of the Dead and Christmas, there is a risk of repeating some concepts.

What can companies do to ensure that each campaign they develop is more original and unique? According to the HBR, you have to try to find non-obvious and unusual solutions, ideas or answers to common challenges in advertising. WARC, on the other hand, believes that finding novel ideas does not carry as much weight, and gives more importance to other factors in the purchase decision. And CreativePool believes that new concepts can no longer be reached.