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SBD/May 31, 2013/Events and AttractionsPrint All
Endurance events are "sweeping the nation," as participation across the U.S. has "risen dramatically over the last decade," according to Austin Murphy of SI. These types of physical challenges include the "unthreatening, untimed and immensely popular 5K Color Runs; more testosterone-intensive challenges such as Muddy Buddy and Tough Mudder, otherwise known as MOB (mud, obstacles, beer) runs; and the scores of marathons and half-marathons, triathlons and CrossFit competitions that are selling out from Kona to Daytona Beach." Falconhead Capital in '05 "started gobbling up properties, including San Diego-based Elite Racing, whose Rock 'n' Roll series then had only five events." By the time Falconhead sold CGI to Calera Capital last December, it "operated 83 endurance events around the world, including 32 Rock 'n' Roll races." NYRR President & CEO Mary Wittenberg said, "What's radically different from even 10 years ago is the breadth of offerings. There are all these fun, different ways people are getting pulled in. And once they're pulled in, we have a chance to help them run for life." Murphy notes this is not just "a fitness craze." The U.S. is "in the midst of a sustained trend, what Running USA called the Second Running Boom (with boomlets in triathlon and MOB runs)." The number of U.S. road-race finishers "has tripled since 1990 to 13.9 million" in '11, while race field have "gone from 75% male to 55% female." Competitor Group President & CEO Scott Dickey said that "women make up 65%" of the field for the company's Rock 'n' Roll events. Dickey: "A lot of these women are running to stay fit, a lot of them are married with kids, some are coming out of the post-pregnancy fog." Ultramarathon runner John Korff said that social media also has "fueled the boom, ratcheting up the 'Look at me!' factor while piquing the curiosity of the uninitiated" (SI, 6/3 issue).
MY NAME IS MUD: Thursday morning's episode of NBC's "Today" featured a taped segment on Tough Mudder. Co-host Matt Lauer said, "In a short three years, that spirit of camaraderie over competition has struck a chord worldwide." Tough Mudder Chief Culture Officer Alex Patterson said Tough Mudder "went from three events and 20,000 people in 2010 to 53 events and over a million people this year globally." Lauer, along with co-hosts Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist took on an abbreviated version of a Tough Mudder course. Roker said, "I'm the one in the worse shape and I came out unscathed" ("Today," NBC, 5/30).
Speaking Thursday at the '13 Intersport Activation Summit, Anheuser-Busch Dir of Sports & Entertainment Marketing Corey Christanell said that when A-B's sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs came up for renewal in ‘11, the company "decided to shift its brand from Budweiser Select to Stella Artois." It was a leap for the brand, which historically sponsored film and food festivals and avoided sports. But A-B marketers saw a fit for the brand with the Derby that they believed could boost sales and brand affinity. Christanell said, “The beautiful people, the beautiful horse, the beautiful facility -- all of that lends favorably to the brand image of Stella Artois.” Christanell added that the “fit was so right that Stella, which uses the tagline ‘She’s a thing of beauty’ in advertising, was able to sub out the image of a woman serving one of its beers in print ads with the image of a thoroughbred coming down the front stretch.”
MORE THAN BEAUTY: But it took more than a print campaign to boost Stella sales and make the sponsorship pay off in ‘12 and ‘13. A-B marketers added a series of events in ‘13 to boost Stella’s visibility and sales at the event. It partnered with GQ to host a Derby Style party on Friday night with model Chrissy Teigen. It signed on as the presenting sponsor of a Taste of the Derby event in which 18 high-end chefs served some of their best dishes to 1,500 guests. It also partnered with NBC to create a sweepstakes on NBCSports.com that awarded winners a Derby party at their home catered by Stella-endorsed chef Daniel Joly. The party was featured during NBC’s Derby broadcast. Christanell said that collectively, the efforts “helped boost share during the week of the Derby by 1.8%.” It also helped the brand go from serving 42,000 chalices at the track and in market in ‘12 to 65,000 chalices this year.
Coca-Cola VP/Global Partnerships & Experiential Marketing Scott McCune was a featured interview Thursday at the ‘13 Intersport Activation Summit, where he discussed how the soda giant leverages its global partnerships in some 200 countries around the world. He specifically outlined Coke’s “Move to the Beat” campaign created for the '12 London Games.
GAME ON: Coke began its London Games marketing in ‘07 and created its “Move to the Beat” campaign as an effort to attract a younger demographic of Coke drinkers. McCune said, “The debate was whether teenagers are really engaged in the Olympic Games. There was a challenge there. How do we create branding content experiences that are so compelling that consumers are sharing it and buying it?” Coke relied heavily on music to drive brand interest around the Olympics, creating some 60 pieces of content around its campaign, including a 30-minute Beat TV show that aired every night of the Olympics. The company also created concerts tied to the torch relay. He said, “We found that (teenagers) were more interested in the social side than what was happening on the track. As opposed to just a TV commercial, we created a concert.” Coke also partnered with Live Nation for a concert in London held the day before the opening ceremonies. But tying the campaign to the 100 countries that activated around the company’s Olympic marketing program was key to driving sales. McCune: “It only works from a scalable standpoint if we can network it together. Not in a silo, but in that they are totally networked together. It boils down to local market activation.”
YOUTH MOVEMENT: So how successful was Coke’s Olympic campaign in drawing a younger group of Coke drinkers? McCune said, “We didn’t recruit the teenagers as much as we had hoped to. A lot of the volume we had did not come from teenagers. They are not following the Olympics like their parents’ generation.” But McCune sees a better outcome in attracting a younger audience as it activates around the FIFA World Cup in ‘14. He said, “The biggest difference is consumer passion.” McCune added that “outside the U.S., soccer ranks only behind music in consumer passion.” He said, “The No. 2 passion is (soccer). The No. 3 passion is (soccer) and the No. 4 passion is (soccer).”
Subway CMO Tony Pace was a featured interview at the ‘13 Intersport Activation Summit Thursday and talked about how the brand has made "sports a long-term part of our brand strategy." He said of working with athletes, “We don't want to talk about what we are peripherally involved in. We want to be involved with people who are involved in our brand on a regular basis.”
BRAND NAMES: Pace, on what he looks for in brand endorsers: “The screen for athletes is they truly are a brand (consumer) of Subway. (Boxer/Subway endorser) Mike Lee told us that every time he gets off the scale after a weigh in, he gets a foot-long turkey sandwich from Subway, saying, 'My Dad gives it to me.' The athletes also have to have a media magnetism to them. .... That's one of the things we very much look for. You have to have people that are media savvy and good with the media, and that's important to us.” Pace added, “You'd be surprised with how many athletes and their people have approached us who told us they loved our product. But after talking to them and asking them questions, at the end of the day, I didn't believe they were eating at Subway on a regular basis.”
GETTING PHILOSOPHICAL: Pace: “I've often said to people, 'If you want the biggest check, don't talk to us. That's not the business we are in. But if you want a pretty decent check, and you want the exposure and see a lot of activation, you should work with us.’ ... I've had people now come up to me and say, 'You don't have to pay me anything, I just want the exposure that you provide your athletes.' I haven't done a deal like that because I don't feel comfortable with that situation. I think people should get paid for the work they do.”
SUPER BOWL SUCCESS: Pace discussed the brand's decision to advertise on CBS during last February’s Super Bowl. He said that he previously “didn't feel the need to be involved in Super Sunday because of the costs and surrounding noise," but this year, he was "pleased with the result from the ad buy.” Pace said that Subway’s spot ran twice -- “once right after the blackout and then again because officials weren't sure if the ad got national play.” He added with a laugh, “I swear to God, we didn't pull the plug.” Pace: “We got one (ad) for free.” Pace said that he was “impressed by all the pre-game attention the Subway spot received.” He said, “The interesting thing about the Super Bowl is, because the build up has become so great before the game, you get a lot of attention above and beyond the Super Bowl spot. I always thought, from the media valuation standpoint, the conference championships were some of the best value in the world.” Pace added, “But it's got to the point, and the NFL deserves great credit for this, the NFL has brought big, significant brands back to the Super Bowl. And when you have significant brands there, the event has more stature, and you want to be among the big brands.” Pace said that he “has not made a decision whether Subway will return to advertise on Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox next February.”
COLD WEATHER CHALLENGE: Pace said that “one of the most underreported stories affecting the success of Super Bowl XLVIII at Met Life Stadium is that there will be a new mayor in N.Y. at the time of the game.” He said, “You are going to have a change in mayor, and the mayor won't be (Michael) Bloomberg. And the (Super Bowl) is happening about 30 days or so after a change in the administration and a new mayor being sworn in.” Pace added, “I think, 'Oh, my God, please be aligned on all these events.' Because there could be a real challenge with a new administration, especially if they are not up to speed on everything. In terms of just overall media coverage, on a local basis, it's going to be pretty difficult, because you're going to have everyone and his brother trying to get media attention there. So we haven't fully figured out our plans yet."
BETTING ON SPORTS: Pace said that he “sat in on the recent network upfront presentations, but that primetime entertainment viewership continues to decline despite good network programming.” He said, "So sports is more important than ever, because you're getting the viewership.” Pace predicted, “I think our sports versus entertainment balance will still steer toward sports because that's where the numbers are. But there's a nice balance there. You have to pick good properties in entertainment. That's more difficult than sports, because in sports, you can do a pretty good job handicapping success. But when we support a film, we try to get all the (promotional) value before a movie launches.”