ORLANDO—The term “hybrid” doesn’t just apply to certain types of athletic shoes sold by New Balance. It’s also the international marketer’s approach to balancing an in-house agency and its global strategic agency of record, VMLY&R.
“I see the hybrid model as being a great way forward for New Balance. We’re a business with a load of complexity,” says Steven Ruhl, the company’s Head of Global Metropolitan Consumer Marketing.
Advantages of maintaining in-house resources include “a closer connection and understanding to the consumer. They understand more about new Balance, our overall strategy and the culture of the company and also they’re dedicated to what we’re doing,” Ruhl explains in this Beet.TV interview at the recent In-House Agency Conference of the Association of National Advertisers.
Being outside the company provides other benefits, as external shops can provide a fresh perspective. “They’re working on exemplary peer brands and they’re able to understanding what’s working in the market, what’s fresh and what’s already been done.”
Insiders often bring a passion to the table grounded in physical activities. “We have a lot of people who are what we call tier zero runners. They live and breath running. The might be into baseball, they might be into basketball. They bring that natural curiosity and passion for the communities that we’re targeting.
Then there’s a level of expertise that doesn’t exist in-house. “Creative technology to drive our media is extremely important for New Balance,” including tapping into artificial intelligence.
Like most companies, New Balance maintains a full-funnel approach to engaging with potential and existing customers. At the top are efforts to recruit new consumers to the brand. “The bottom of the funnel is where we get a lot more targeted around existing consumers and driving targeting through our digital platforms,” Ruhl says.