Caroline Kelly, local Canada resident, moved her hand slowly from left to right in front of her face, as she related her idea for a news headline, “New Balance puts Canada, KS, on the map.”
However, before she met a Canadian film crew that promised her a pair of free limited-edition New Balance shoes, she wasn’t entirely sure of their true intentions.
“They’re called the ‘Woods Pack,’ it’s a special five-shoe collection that will only be available at New Balance stores in Canada,” said Deric Moore, senior copywriter for Havas Worldwide Canada, an advertising agency in Toronto, Ontario. “The colors are inspired by the Canadian landscape, and there were only 1,000 made.”
Kelly had talked to neighbors, Warren and Donna Kreutziger, who were the first people the Canadian shoe crew contacted about filming the commercial.
Kreutziger recounted the call.
“Donna didn’t know who they were or what they wanted,” he said. “She just hung up.”
When Kelly told the Kreutzigers the shoe crew had contacted her too, she was told it was a farce.
“Free shoes for shooting an ad promo? A red flag went up,” Kelly said, recalling her initial reaction to the proposition.
“I thought, ‘OK, what’s the catch?’” she said Thursday. “So you know what I did? I shot an email over to New Balance, but they still haven’t written back.”
Garry Klose, reserve officer at Marion Police Department, originally thought the idea seemed fishy, too.
“Nobody gives out free anything these days,” Klose said.
When the filmers arrived at their door, he and Kelly invited them into their backyard.
“I was leery,” Klose said. “With the number of years I’ve been in law enforcement I can usually tell when people are pulling my leg, but they were just like us hometown folks.”
“We visited right here under our shade tree, and just had a pleasant conversation. It gave me warm and fuzzy feeling.
“The only catch was they wanted to film us in the shoes.”
The couple decided to take part in the video. The crew filmed Kelly while she worked in her garden, and asked Klose questions while he walked around and sat in a lawn chair on their property.
Kelly’s son, Justin Barr, who was home from college for the summer, also took part.
“I’m happy,” Barr said. “It’s pretty sweet. I needed some new shoes.
“They feel nice, but they’re not wide enough. I’ve got flat feet.”
Klose said, “My feet are flatter than Justin’s and they feel good.”
Moore explained where the idea for his company’s commercial came from.
“We thought ‘why not share the shoes?’” Moore said. “So we got online and looked for other Canadas. We found one in Antarctica, England, California, and some other places, but Canada, Kansas, seemed to fit our needs best.”
The commercial will air in Canada and online in mid- September.
The ad reps had read online that Canada had a population of 108, but Klose estimated a different population density.
“There are 10 houses with people in ’em,” he said, gesturing in the general direction of different houses and tallying up his neighbors. “That house is empty. There are the Sandwells, the Kruetzigers, us, the Williamses, that house is empty, too. There are a couple more in that house and few more there. Yeah, I think counting everyone within our two-block city limits, we’ve got about 18 people living here.”
The show crew had planned to give way 23 pairs to anyone who lived in Canada’s postal code, before they discovered Canada didn’t have a postal code.
“When we came out here, we didn’t know anything about the place or what kind of place it was,” Moore said. “We were the strangers. We didn’t know if anyone would open their door to us.
“Being from Canada, another place called Canada is completely foreign, you’d never think another Canada exists, but I think that will be the pull for the audience.”
The advertisers wanted to capture natural genuine emotions and reactions from the locals as they performed everyday activities wearing New Balance shoes.
Once, they explained themselves and showed locals there was nothing to fear, filming became easier.
Diana Williams and teenage son, Cody, were doing chores in their yard when three members of the film crew casually approached them and apologized for walking in their yard.
“Kinda sorta what’s the deal? What are you guys doing out here?” Diana asked as they stood in her driveway.
Moore politely explained their purpose. He asked Diana if she would be interested in taking part. They had spotted a rustic tractor they wanted to include.
“We heard you’re the owners,” he said. “It would really light our fire if we could film one of you riding the tractor and wearing the shoes.”
Diana found the idea humorous, but she wasn’t sure. She just wanted to know more and check with her husband, who was at work.
“We’re not looking for anything,” Moore said. “We just want you to be yourself.”
Moore asked her what size of shoes she and Cody wore. Diana told her size and gestured to her son, Cody, who was coming out of a nearby small shed and said, “The scrawny thing over there is a 12. The biggest thing about him is his feet.”
Cody heard his name, smiled and squinted through glasses. He joined the conversation when Moore asked him color of shoe he wanted.
“I want the most expensive pair,” he said.
Moore replied, “We’ll get you our most stylish pair.”
Cody laughed. He was wearing knee-high, black rubber boots with blue jeans and a purple shirt that read, “Keep Calm And Get Your Braces On.”
“No one really cares about style around here,” Cody said. “If I sell them, then I can get money for something else.”
However, Cody was willing to put on the shoes and ride the tractor later in the day.
The conversation changed direction when Diana noticed Kreutziger, who was partially hidden in a tree line, observing the crew film the Sandwells.
“Warren’s camera shy,” she said. “We’re all kinda quiet people around here.”