All season, Raptors fans were scratching their heads, wondering how a global brand like New Balance could drop the ball so noticeably when it came to releasing and promoting merchandise for Kawhi Leonard.
It took most of the season to get a single pair of his signature shoes out there, and when they finally dropped, they were only available in super limited quantities.
Shirts with Kawhiisms like “Fun Guy” and “Board Man Gets Paid” took ages to be released, and once again, they were only available in small, limited drops.
Initially, New Balance didn’t even sell the Fun Guy shirts in Canada, the first drop was only for Americans.
Then, they sent a few shirts to local shops in Toronto for a very limited drop. Finally, they released some shirts on their website, but even those sold out almost instantly after a very clunky ordering process leaving many fans disappointed with wallets full of cash they desperately wanted to throw at NB.
When people’s shirts finally arrived, many of them had been sent the wrong color.
How could a brand like New Balance underestimate the demand for Kawhi clothing in Canada so drastically?
Was this a comedy of errors, or was there something else going on…?
Maybe they didn’t underestimate the demand at all. Maybe they WANTED sales in Canada to be low.
How else do you explain the fact that after months and months, a clothing brand of this size couldn’t produce enough Fun Guy shirts to meet the demand?
But why would New Balance want to sabotage their own sales?
They knew that if Kawhi decided to stay in Toronto, they could ramp it up and sell a ton of shirts, even if they were a bit late to the party. But they also knew that if they severely limited the amount of money Canadians could possibly spend on Kawhi gear, that’s one more little push towards LA, where they wanted him all along.
It’s doubtful that somebody who is willing to leave tens of millions of dollars on the table two years in a row would be swayed all that much by t-shirt sales, but it’s also unlikely that New Balance knew what his decision would be, so if there was anything they could do to help sway him in the slightest, it seems like they were willing to do it.
New Balance also brutally trolled Raptors fans on Parade Day…
Don’t forget that leading up the Raptors victory parade, New Balance told fans in attendance to turn on Air Drop for a special announcement from Kawhi Leonard. Many Raptors fans were expecting some sort of update on Kawhi’s plans, especially while riding the championship high and seeing how much fun Kawhi was having. New Balance knew that this message would get everyone’s hopes up, but instead it ended up being a very mundane little “Thanks to the fans” type of message.