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Run 10 Feed 10 Race Series: An Excellent Example of Corporate Social Responsibility

Women’s Health Magazine is gearing up for a new race series, the Run 10 Feed 10, where all money raised benefits the FEED Foundation, a non-profit striving to end world hunger. So far, this looks like a great example of corporate social responsibility as both the issue and the campaign are very much in line with the magazine’s target audience (female health and fitness enthusiasts).

By asking runners to register for a 10K race and commit to fundraising, Women’s Health is hoping to “make a big impact in a very simple way.”  A portion of the race fee instantly provides 10 meals for those going hungry in the registrant’s local or surrounding areas.

There are several races in different locations across the United States, but even those who don’t live in those areas can take part by signing up to run their own 10K. I really like that Women’s Health included this as an option, which I think will help encourage even more participation.

Since there isn’t a race near me, I think I’m going to sign up to run my own 10K as part of the Run 10 Feed 10 program. What about you? Is this an event you’d like to do?

Learn more at the Run 10 Feed 10 Website: http://www.run10feed10.com/home/#!/main.

Under Armour’s “What’s Beautiful?” Project Engages Female Athletes

Earlier this year, Under Armour launched the “What’s Beautiful?” Project – an initiative to “redefine the female athlete.” UA kicked off the new campaign with a video featuring powerful language about women and sports:


My favorite line is, “Take it back… from those who think watching us play is boring.” Damn right: now that’s some motivational copywriting that is sure to make the target audience want to get involved.

The video set up a nice story arch that is currently being carried out through a competition housed on a microsite.  Here, UA encourages women to state their fitness goals, create profiles on the site, and work to achieve the goal while documenting the journey and completing 19 challenges along the way.

The visually appealing site is still functional with several ways for visitors to learn more about the competition and watch demos on how to set up profiles and complete challenges, making for a nice user experience.

To promote “What’s Beautiful,” UA has been leveraging its existing social media platforms, specifically the Under Armour Women Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Additional promotion stemmed from a key partnership with BlogHer, the female-focused publishing network. UA has a dedicated channel on the BlogHer website that aggregates the articles bloggers post about the challenge as well as their readers’ comments. A sweepstakes offering the chance to win a $500 Under Armour gift card helped increase participation among the bloggers’ readers, generating more than 600 cumulative responses to the fitness-focused prompt each post included.

Of course, incentives are a necessary component of this competition due to the time commitment required to participate – it takes a lot of guts to publicly declare a fitness goal and then quite a bit of time to create and maintain a profile. The team behind “What’s Beautiful” clearly recognized that as the prize package for three overall winners is significant.

At the end of the competition in July, UA will announce 10 finalists who will then be whittled down further to three winners – two who UA will select and another that public voting will determine. All three winners are set to receive a one-year sponsorship deal that includes Under Armour gear, access to special events and celebrity trainers, and more. The other finalists won’t walk away empty-handed, though – they’ll automatically earn a place on the Under Armour Women’s Ambassador Team and receive $1,000 worth of UA swag.

That incentive package combined with the strong promotional elements ensured the “What’s Beautiful” Project received attention from the target audience of female athletes, but the strong emotional tie to the story arch is what captured the audience in a more meaningful way.

  1. Have you been participating in the “What’s Beautiful” Project?

The Mezamashii Project | Mizuno Leverages WOM and Social Media to Get Runners to “Join the Quest for More Brilliant Running”

Running hurts. It’s no secret. From elite athletes to newbies, everyone knows running hurts. When the pain seeps in, the mind races with excuses to quit, to give up, to feel less… but we runners power through it to get to the other side, where the euphoric “Runner’s High” is waiting, patiently, to remind us why we keep at it.

All runners experience the pain no matter how long they’ve been doing the sport – there are bad runs, tough workouts, goal races that leave your lungs strained and legs heavy. But there are also amazing runs – adventurous jaunts that make us crave the next time we’ll experience the “Runner’s High.”

It’s those runs, and the blissful sensations that take over when the pain stops, that drive runners to keep lacing up our shoes day after day. We’re all seeking that elusive high.

Enter Mizuno’s new campaign: The Mezamashii Project. Aside from being a fun word to say, mezamashii means “brilliant” in Japanese. It touches on the concept of something being “eye-opening,” awakening a sense of awe and inspiration in your surroundings.

Mizuno says “a more euphoric, ‘mezamashii’ running experience is out there…” and the brand is encouraging the running community to join the quest to find it.

The short video below does a great job of introducing, and showing, mezamashii running:

With this new initiative, the company is hoping to change the way people try on and eventually purchase running shoes.  On the campaign microsite, a pop-up window greets visitors who click the “request an invite” prompt with this message:

“We are on a quest to deliver more mezamashii – more ecstatic, electric, wind-in-your heart running. So instead of spending millions of dollars on advertising to talk about our shoes, we’re putting our money where your feet are and putting our shoes on runners’ feet.”

Mizuno believes its shoes are the vehicle needed to bring about more mezamashii running – so much so that it is giving away thousands of free pairs of shoes to runners, banking on the “try-it-and-you’ll-love-it” approach to marketing. In doing so, the company is hoping to build a community of running enthusiasts who will receive inspiration, early access to product launches, and invites to exclusive events.

In the absence of a major advertising campaign to promote and support the project, Mizuno is relying on word-of-mouth and social media to spread the word. They’ve tapped influential running bloggers to kick off the project as founding members, who not only receive a free pair of Mizuno shoes but also have the opportunity to give away shoes to their readers.

I have to commend the team behind this campaign for creating stunning assets that can be easily shared via social media channels. There is inspiring imagery (that I expect we’ll see going viral on Pinterest soon) and short, nicely executed videos.

In addition to relying on runners to launch the project on their own social channels, Mizuno is using its official YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter profiles. There is also a Pinterest account, but there isn’t much content there yet.

Knowing there are always runs that are going to hurt, the message of this campaign is a great way for runners to remember just how amazing the sport can be. We runners get it:  we’re all on that quest for the brilliant run, for that “runner’s high.” It’s what binds us all together, right?

  1. What do you think about the mezamashii project video?
  2. What do you do when you’re in the middle of one of those “tough” runs?

Oiselle Hosts “Totally Trials” Contest to Get Runners Pumped for U.S. Olympic Team Trials

With the trials for the 2012 U.S. Olympic track team coming up this weekend, many running-focused companies have capitalized on the buzz surrounding the big events happening in Track Town USA, forming partnerships and sharing creative ways running enthusiasts can participate even if they aren’t trying to climb atop the podium that leads to London.

Oiselle, a smaller women’s running apparel company based in Seattle, Wa., hosted a great contest earlier this summer that helped drum up excitement for the trials as well as the brand itself. Called “Totally Trials,” the contest invited pairs of running buddies to submit applications detailing why they should be chosen to attend the U.S. Track Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR to cheer on the elite athletes.

The winners received airfare, accommodations, tickets to a big party featuring M.C. Hammer (um, awesome?!), Oiselle swag, and, of course, passes to the trials themselves. That is a pretty amazing prize package that provides more than enough incentive to develop a creative contest entry.

One aspect of this contest I especially liked is that the company selected winners based on creativity and merit – no additional popularity element, such as number of votes or comments, played a role in the decision. There are obvious pros and cons to including crowd-sourced votes in contests, but I think excluding this element worked in Oiselle’s favor because it created one fewer barrier to entry, most likely resulting in more submissions.

For example, I know I don’t have a huge blog or Twitter following and I dislike asking my friends to vote for me in contests. When I see promotions that take votes into consideration, I almost never participate because I doubt I can wrangle up enough supporters to overcome more popular influencers. While I still passively engage with these contests, it is rare that I would take the time to put together an entry of my own.

For a smaller brand like Oiselle that is trying to build its consumer base and increase brand awareness, getting people to put in effort creating an entry means you’re getting them to really think about and connect with your company and/or products. This makes it more likely contest participants will become a consumers or, at least,  brand supporters.

Most of the entrants made videos, which they uploaded to YouTube and promoted on their own social networks. This helped spread the word about the contest and generated organic coverage for Oiselle.

image credit: Oiselle blog

As the adorable photo above states, now it’s almost time for the trials. The winners are getting ready to spectate (AKA “fine-tuning their cowbells”), and I’m excited to follow along as they broadcast the events live from Track Town USA. Again, similarly to what nuun accomplished with its blogger team for the Hood-to-Coast relay, Oiselle now has two eager, influential women on its side to create compelling and engaging content that will be shared widely, sustaining the momentum the original contest generated.

  1. Are you looking forward to watching the Trials this weekend? Will you be following along online?
  2. Do you like entering contests where voting is a consideration or do you prefer merit-based ones?

Memorial Day Weekend: Saucony Fun Run and Lessons From My First Bike Crash

This long weekend served up the perfect mix of “doing nothing & doing something,” leaving me refreshed and ready to tackle a busy summer. My two highlights from the weekend were a Saucony-sponsored fun run with my local running store and my first biking accident (I’m okay!).

Yesterday, I kicked off the Memorial Day holiday at 7 a.m. with a Pacers fun run around D.C.’s National Mall. Starting early allowed us to beat the heat and the tourists. Our group leader planned a route that would take us past many of the iconic memorials and monuments, bringing a somber reminder of the real reason we had a day off yesterday.

Before we started the run, we got to hear from Jeff Caron, Saucony’s DC/VA field rep who partners with local running stores to plan lots of great events like yesterday’s outing. Everyone had the opportunity to try some Saucony shoes on the run, and I, of course, had to sport the lime green and hot pink Kinvara 3s.

The brighter the colors the faster you run, right?

These community events continue to have a positive effect on consumer engagement by doing two important things (among others): 1. they give the brand personality and 2. they allow product testing in the natural environment.

It’s no secret that I love events like these, mostly because it shows there are real people behind big brands. Yesterday, Jeff’s passion for Saucony and the sport really shined, making our group feel a little bit more connected to the company. Additionally, after the run, Jeff connected with many of the runners on social media channels, which will help sustain the relationships he built and allow Saucony and running-related communication to happen naturally and easily in the future.

Since I’ve gotten more involved with the running community (instead of just being a solo runner), I try to take full advantage of events that allow us to test out shoes and other products so I can make better informed purchases.  Going for a full, outdoor run is so much better than doing a quick, forced jog around a store.

“Finding Our Strong” Outside the Lincoln Memorial

I currently run in the Saucony Kinvara 2 and have been eager to try the newly-released Kinvara 3. Being able to try the updated model during yesterday’s 6-miler proved the shoe still fits my foot well, even with the updates. Now, I can safely say that I will buy the new version at some point in the near future (what a marketing success story!).

After such a great start to my morning, I knew I wanted to keep the fun going. My friend and I decided to bike on the Mt. Vernon Trail out to the waterfront in Old Town, Alexandria and back.

We made a couple stops on our way home and were approaching a 20-mile ride when someone abruptly swung open his car door into the bike lane. With no time to react, I slammed into the door head-on and flew off my bike, landing in a heap on top of the bike in the middle of the street. Luckily, I had been wearing a helmet and no cars were driving down the road… otherwise it could have been much, much worse.

In those few moments immediately after the crash, I could only think about the intense pain in my hip and what it might mean for my running. At first, I was unable to get up or move. Looking back, I now realize this was because of shock, but it is still a terribly frightening position to be in as all the horror stories I’d heard about cycling accidents flashed in my mind. I tried to figure out just how badly injured I was, and after a few moments, I could stand up with the help of my friend and the driver.

As soon as I realized I’d be okay, I felt such relief, mainly because I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t run. Is it sad that’s what I worried about first?

I tried my best to assure the driver that I was fine – he was really, really worried – and we checked out the damage to the bike. The poor bike sustained much more damage than I did, but that’ll get fixed soon enough.

The driver made a comment that stuck with me. He said, “We really take the bike lanes for granted. I’m still not used to them, and I need to always, always check.”

It’s so true – bike lanes aren’t common in a lot of places and it’s easy to forget they exist, which can lead to preventable crashes and accident.

Today, I am very sore and quite bruised, but mostly, just feeling lucky and blessed. You can bet I’ll always wear a helmet and will be much more observant when on a bike and when opening car doors. I hope this will remind everyone out there to do the same!

 

 

 

Two Months Post-Launch: “Refuel – Got Chocolate Milk?” Campaign Is Off to a Strong Start

Growing up, the “Got Milk?” campaign seemed to be everywhere. I loved flipping through magazines and seeing which celebrity or pop culture icon had been featured sporting a milk mustache in the newest ad. Long touted as one of the most famous commodity advertising campaigns, I often wondered if it could be topped, or would we be asking “Got Milk?” for another 20+ years.

Based on a refreshed campaign launched this March, it looks like consumers can add one more word to the iconic slogan – now we’ll be wondering, “Got Chocolate Milk?” As part of an initiative to tap into the $3.3 billion sports-drink industry, America’s Milk Processors are urging athletes to “Refuel with Chocolate Milk” after workouts.

I’m a prime candidate for this campaign because I’ve always said that I tend to crave chocolate milk after a long run. This goes back to my days as a high school track runner. For a long time, people called me crazy for wanting milk after a tough workout, but now there’s a campaign that proves I’m not alone!

The advertising collateral for “Got Chocolate Milk?” is capitalizing on celebrity athlete partnerships and a new slogan, “My After.” Videos, commercials, and print ads  featuring athletes such as Carmelo Anthony, Dana Torres, and Chris Lieto tap into existing fan bases while also validating milk’s ability to be considered a sports drink among consumers.

CHRIS LIETO, Professional Triathlete, Ironman

Notably, the campaign isn’t only using celebrity athletes to reach its target audience (athletes aged 18-34), and is also leveraging key influencers such as coaches and trainers to help build communities of “chocolate milk refuel champions.” This seems to be done well, especially on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, where fans and followers seem engaged with the content the team is sharing.

The team behind “Got Chocolate Milk?” is excelling at creative relevant, practical, and informative content for all online channels. There is a nice mix of sports and nutritional information, resources, and entertaining looks at celebrity athletes to capture attention.

As an athlete, I enjoy the articles and posts shared on the Got Chocolate Milk? Facebook and Twitter profiles, specifically third-party articles that support the science and research behind using chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery drink. On the Facebook page, fans submitted their “after” stories for a chance to win swag and other larger prizes, and a social voting and sharing component kept the community involved with campaign messaging.

Strategic partnerships with brands such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Ironman, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and Lifetime Fitness are right on the mark in terms of enhancing the campaigns credibility and increasing awareness among the target audiences. When I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half marathon earlier this spring, the Refuel team had a strong presence at the expo and the finish line. Plus, I loved getting a bottle of chocolate milk immediately after finishing the race!

Over the last couple of months, the “Got Chocolate Milk?” campaign has taken off and I’m eager to see how it progresses and whether the momentum on social networks continues or fades. Personally, I’m hoping it continues so I have proof I’m not totally crazy when I reach for chocolate milk instead of other more traditional sports drinks after a hard run. :)

Saucony Launches New “Find Your Strong Project”

Wow. I am absolutely blown away by the new intro video Saucony released to launch its new campaign: The Find Your Strong Project.

 

Everything about this video is well-done: the script, the voiceover, the production value, the editing (plus, how beautiful and amazing does Dorothy look in her signature hot pink arm warmers??).

All of the video’s components strongly resonate with me as a runner. As a marketer, I’m equally impressed. The script is poignant and memorable without being over-the-top or too cheesy, which makes me want to share it with all my running friends and all the friends I want to become runners. It makes me want to share how I find strength, how I “find my strong.” This video does exactly what Saucony wants: it makes me want to get involved in the campaign.

From the description of the video, Saucony provides this information about the Project:

Saucony Presents The Find Your Strong Project – giving runners the chance to share their strong. To find inspiration, find a challenge, or (even) a kick in the butt. Because the more we all run, the stronger we all get. Strong is out there … what’s yours?

There is an accompanying microsite that houses user-generated content where runners can share quotes, photos, and videos detailing how and where they find strength for the chance to win one of 10 pairs of Saucony shoes. It looks like the prompts on the site might change weekly, which will help keep the campaign fresh and exciting.

This is a campaign I’ll be sure to follow closely, especially to see how Saucony leverages social media tactics to capitalize on the strong sharing elements of the project.

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What are your first impressions of the Find Your Strong Project? If you were Saucony, what social media channel(s) would you use to increase awareness and drive participation?