After huge success with its runDisney shoes in 2013, New Balance will launch two new models on Jan. 8.
Last month at the pre-race expo for Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando, Fla., a long line of people stretched out of the makeshift store selling official runDisney merchandise.
Although most of the expo shop was filled with colorful runDisney T-shirts, sweatshirts and accessories adorned by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, there was no line for those products. The 75 or so people who could be found waiting in the line at any given time over the course of several hours were there for something else: Disney running shoes.
“I can’t wait to get a pair!” said a giddy woman near the back of the line named Carla, who was wearing a pink Minnie Mouse sweatshirt with a matching pink polka-dotted ribbon in her hair.
The official shoes of the runDisney race series, made by New Balance as part of a new multi-level partnership with Disney, debuted at the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend expo on Jan. 10 and became an instant collector’s item. New Balance sold out of almost every pair of the men’s and women’s red-white-and-yellow Disney-themed stability trainers at each of six remaining runDisney events throughout the rest of the year — including the Wine and Dine Half Marathon that concluded the season on Nov. 8-9.
Throughout the year, some of the colorful kicks could be found selling on eBay for $225 to $450 a pair.
“We were absolutely taken aback with how well the shoes sold,” says Bryan Gothie, senior product manager for running footwear at New Balance. “The Disney people sort of warned us that the Disney crowd might be a little bit different than a typical marathon expo. But the result has been awesome. We were amazed at how well the product resonated, both with runners and with Disney consumers.”
The shoe was modeled off the popular New Balance 860v3 stability trainer and sold for $125 — a $10 premium over the standard 860v3 model available at running stores.
“These shoes can let you experience a little bit of the (Disney) magic and fun when you’re running, and it allows you to show your Disney side, just a little bit.” says Dara Trujillo, manager of Merchandise Synergy, Events and Communication for Disney Theme Parks.
In many ways, New Balance has struck gold on its multi-year strategic partnership with Disney Parks & Resorts, which was announced on Jan. 8. Although the runDisney shoes are only available in limited quantities and don’t rank among New Balance’s best-selling products overall, the partnership has allowed the Boston-based shoe brand to exclusively tap into the growing base of runDisney participants and the fervent fans of all things Disney.
Plus, aside from being the official shoe of the runDisney series, New Balance is also the official athletic shoe of the Walt Disney World Resorts, Disneyland Resorts and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, as well as the official running shoe of Disney Track & Field and the official baseball shoe of Disney Amateur Baseball.