‘Running Guy’ scores a hit (& run) for Nike participants

There are those who think nothing of a 10K run, and engage in them often, sometimes once a month. And there are those who have a hard time making it out to their local gym, let alone working up the motivation to participate in a long-distance run.

There are those who think nothing of a 10K run, and engage in them often, sometimes once a month. And there are those who have a hard time making it out to their local gym, let alone working up the motivation to participate in a long-distance run.

To get Torontonians on their feet, Nike focused on both types of consumers with its RunTO campaign this past summer. The apparel manufacturer organized a 10K run on Toronto Island and enlisted Toronto-based interactive agency ninedots to create the Web site Runto.ca as the focal point of a larger integrated campaign.

‘Nike knew they would get the hard-core runners who attend events throughout the summer,’ says ninedots account director Ken Maclean. ‘The real challenge was to convert people who are active and young but may not have the motivation. The goal is to communicate with them and have them make running a part of their everyday lifestyle.’

The goal: Overall, the goal was to inspire young, active Torontonians to participate in the 10K run, and in the process, raise awareness for the Nike brand, and especially Nike running gear. Another goal of the campaign, which included opt-in database registration, was to establish a means to communicate with participants on an ongoing basis.

The strategy: To establish Runto.ca as the epicentre of a larger, multi-channel campaign that included transit and outdoor advertising which touted the Web site as a destination. The site was intended as a registration processing centre for participants, as well as an information hub where they could find out about weekly training runs, event details and product information. The opt-in strategy enabled Nike to communicate details on the upcoming event, and a viral marketing component allowed runners to enlist their friends with ‘Challenge a Friend’ e-cards.

The execution: A Flash-intensive Web site focused on the ‘Running Guy’ character – an out-of-shape, average man. Running Guy literally ran across users’ screens through Toronto neighbourhoods to enable people to visualize themselves running along with him. Participants were alerted to return to the Runto.ca site after the race to view video of the event, as well as the post-race celebration.

The results: The Runto.ca Web site processed 7,500 registrations, while the training run reminder e-mails had an open rate of 71%, and exceeded targets by over 200%. Meanwhile, over 90% of participants went back to the site after the race to view post-race photos and video clips.

Maclean says the results are a positive sign for interactive. ‘The fact that the Web site was such a focal point of a large-scale integrated campaign speaks volumes about its commitment to the interactive channel.’