Every year, shoe company Saucony concepts a shoe for the Boston Marathon, but this year when the design team sat down to brainstorm the focus shifted to the Dunkin' Donuts coffee and donuts in the room. The result was a Dunkin' branded Saucony shoe that the team hopes will sprinkle some attention to the company.

I recently spoke with Saucony Brand Director Sean Robbins to get a better feel for how the partnership was put together and why Saucony has faith in its success as a promotional vehicle as well as for sales of the shoe, which is retailing for $110.00.

How did this collaboration come about, from start to finish?

Robbins: Every year we release a shoe to commemorate our hometown Marathon in Boston, and for 2018 we knew we wanted something unexpected. With that in mind, we started to unpack the unique experiences around training for the Marathon, from our employees, elite athletes and social media conversations, to discover stories that might spark an idea.

It didn't take long to notice how often Dunkin' Donuts came up. If you're from Boston this likely comes as no surprise; whether it was the pre-run coffee, the post-run donut, the meeting point for a group run, or a mid-run pit stop. Dunkin' was clearly a beloved part of the zeitgeist for Boston training groups, a genuine relationship we had suddenly shone a spotlight on.

As a fellow Boston-area brand, we had some friends of friends at Dunkin' and got in touch to share the idea - which we thought was a long shot - but they loved it and things got underway quickly. From there, it was a matter of creating the shoe design, which we dubbed internally as "The Marathon Motivator". Our Creative Director took on the project with the Kinvara 9 as a canvas, and after a few rounds of feedback with Dunkin' and our elite athletes, we had something that properly combined the two brands' visuals and nailed the concept.

What makes you think that consumers want sprinkles and donuts on their shoes?

Robbins: For a limited edition release tied to an event, people expect something unique - but this isn't just different for different's sake - it's a design that nods to shared experiences on the long journey to a marathon. Also, one can never underestimate the power of a donut.

Who is the true target consumer for this promotion?

Robbins: Boston Marathon runners, local or visiting, who want to commemorate the event with a souvenir. Fans of the Saucony and/or Dunkin' brand who want something truly one-of-a-kind.

Is Saucony exploring similar types of deals with brands in different categories?

Robbins: Both through Saucony and Saucony Originals, we're always exploring partnerships that are consumer-insights driven and tell a story.

Published on: Mar 29, 2018
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