Walking along my local high street, with my two small children, I was contemplating the inevitable; “ I really must start getting back into shape, to shed this baby weight”. But it’s getting close to the autumn, the winter woolies will be making a reappearance, so maybe it can wait until the spring? Then I spotted it! The dreaded promotional banner; “ give your town the run around. Run 2k, 5k or 10K.” Arrgghhh. Another 10K. I’m not even safe in my home town. The rise of the 10k has now reached suburbia. Now, I’m not a couch potato, indeed i’m the opposite, having served 14 years working for the World’s, best and biggest sports brand (Nike). Yes, i’m biased I know. I consider myself to be health aware, and not afraid of working up a sweat. Having worked on my fair share of Run London’s, Human Race, Women’s10K’s with said sports brand. I’m very mindful of the social benefits, the brand engagement benefits and the return, from putting on one of these events. But it started me thinking. When will we see saturation of organised short distance runs? Who will jump on the 10k band wagon next?
When you make a virtual list in your mind you can probably list at least 2 or 3 organised 10k’s: Race for Life is probably one of the most established events,The British 10K, which Nike have sponsored in the past, The Santa Run, there are even events like the Halloween 7 in 7 – The Scary Scamper. Run’s through mud, in paint, extreme run’s with electric fences. Whatever floats your boat, there is a challenge to suit. Running Bug a forum for organised runs, of varying distances highlights 151 10k runs between 24th October and the end of December. Throughout the country.
There are of course obvious benefits, the Corporate Social Responsibility angle, the promotion of well being and fitness, and the funds it raises for good causes. Race For Life has seen over 7 million women compete in the last 20 years. Girl power indeed! And these inspirational women have raised over £513m during this time. In 2008 Nike saw 1million runners compete across the globe in the Human Race, the platform Nike used to spark the Beijing Olympic Games campaign. Encouraging the promotion of wellbeing, and tackling the growing global concern, in respect to inactivity. As well as of course the corporate and brand benefits, Nike donated a proportion of the entry fee to a collection of charity’s, WWF, Livestrong and ninemillion.org. This wasn’t a money making event, any profits made were given back. Illustrating the importance of having a social conscience when considering running events. It is an interesting dynamic, that running events have become a social platform, a virtual community of like minded people, running for a cause, a motivation, or a charity. It poses the question of the social dynamics that brands now need to consider when having a dialogue with their consumers.
Cause related marketing has increased in popularity for marketers when contemplating their marketing strategy. Understanding that consumers are more cynical, and aren’t happy at the Push marketing tactics primarily used over the last decade. The rise of Pull Marketing, whereby a brand plant’s tactical messages in a combination of medium’s, to encourage the consumer to discover, share, comment and in theory transact. Tesco’s has engaged in cause related or societal marketing to increase market share and profitability, by being one of the corporate sponsors for Race for Life. Communicating their involvement in a way that shows they care, understand and want to help a worthy cause. Which in turn promotes a warm fuzzy feeling with the shoppers, which in turn will increase their propensity to shop in Tesco?
Whilst Marketers and brands are doing their fair share of promoting well being, waving the flag against obesity, getting the country up and running, in addition to raising millions for charity. I still wonder; When will consumers decide that the focus on organised runs, should and must always be about them and others less fortunate, and not about profitability & market share. Brands need to ensure they don’t cross the line, and ensure their social conscience is always in check when placing another banner on another high street encouraging you to Run your Town? Food for thought? The question I guess is… will I be registering next year and doing my bit for the local community and local charities. More than likely, well being, fitness and being a positive role model to my young girls is important to me, plus it will give me the motivation by running as a collective. I will of course have my corporate filter on, to ensure the line isn’t crossed.