Event Marketing Solution Restarts Holiday Fun Run with a Bang
Every July 4th for the past ten years, the Parks Department for one small mid-western city has hosted an annual holiday fun-run for local residents. Historically, there was a lot of participation, due in part to the festivities’ patriotic nature and the race’s ‘small-town’ flavor. However, after a decade with no changes to its race route or format, and race sign-ups steadily waning, department organizers realized that some changes were in order.
They were also contending with complaints from parents of younger runners that ‘serious’ athletes had co-opted the event, giving it the uneasy feel of a professional competition. Seeking to reengage younger families and to put the fun back into the fun run, organizers contacted us.
Our first recommendation was to shake up the race format itself, changing the start time from early morning to early evening, so that moms, dads and kids could participate together. Next, we developed a new name and logo, and applied them to an invitation and flyer, as well as promotional banners for local merchants to display. We also created new, patriotic-themed graphic elements and applied them to runner race-jerseys and volunteer polo shirts.
For some after-dark fun, we supplied several novel glow-in-the-dark promo items, including headbands, shoe clips and novelty picture frames. Clowns, hired by the organizers and outfitted with race shirts and flashlights, handed out water bottles, jogging and joking with younger runners for an added measure of entertainment.
A few days after the race, the Director of Parks personally called to thank us for ‘shaking things up,’ and to share some of the event’s impressive results. Not only did attendees of all skill levels call it ‘one of the best races ever,’ the number of participants grew by triple digits, with the biggest increases coming from the younger age groups.
The goal of reestablishing a sense of community was clearly achieved, as people hung out together, talking, dancing and snapping selfies, until all the refreshments were gone. As an added PR bonus, the local media caught wind of the new nighttime format and sent a team out to interview and photograph participants for the hometown newspaper (and blog).