DDB and Sky hustle public through converted container for Commonwealth Games promo

Wellington pedestrians can now experience what they might have been if they’d embraced athletics instead of watching sports from the armchair with the Time Tunnel. 

As part of the ‘History Will Be Made campaign in the lead up to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Sky TV and DDB have fully customised a container that holds an actual running track, which they’ve set up for Wellingtonians today until Sunday (and coming next week to Auckland). 

Already tested in Christchurch’s Re:START mall, members of the public race down a container-length of recreated stadium track. They are recorded with a series of motion sensors and digital cameras set up by Satellite Media, and they can hear the crowd roar as they charge.

“We wanted to make an experience Kiwis could be involved in, on a world stage,” says Georgia Newton, senior account manager at DDB.

Afterwards, participants can see what their time and placing would have been in various actual Commonwealth races throughout history, in anything from the 100 metres to a marathon. There’s a screen on the side of the container putting runners’ names and times up in lights. A time lapse series of the participant sprinting, their name and their results are also displayed on the custom-built app on the Sky Sport Facebook page, accompanied by a comment like “Beaten by a speedy Englishman, no shame in that”, “If most of the field is disqualified, it’s medal time!”, or “A bit off the pace, but good effort in jandals.” The runners are emailed their results too, which can be shared socially, and they’re encouraged to compete with their friends.

Sky TV marketing director, Mike Watson, says, “It’s fantastic to be able to give New Zealanders the opportunity to get excited about the up and coming Games.”

Newton says they had positive feedback in Christchurch, with hundreds of Cantabrians giving it a whirl last weekend. She says the results between Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington will be pitted against each other.

She says one of the most difficult things to create was the track, which is just like the real thing in stadia. “It was put down in layers, much like making a road.”

UK agency Itch and Virgin Media have done something similar with world-champion sprinter Usain Bolt in Glasgow in the Green Live Zone, which will host parties throughout the games.

People can book in to line up next to a virtual version of the sprinter on the start line in front of a long screen—and infrared sensors will capture their height, size and technique to get an overall run time. Names with best times will be added to a leaderboard throughout the games.

“At 40m long and over 9ft tall, the Race Bolt screen is your opportunity to run against an ‘on-screen’, life-size version of the world’s fastest man, at his fastest time of 9.58 seconds,” says Virgin Media.

Asics also created a similar campaign with ad agency Vitro back in 2011 in the US for the New York marathon, getting subway pedestrians to race top marathon runner Ryan Hall on a 20-metre video wall. And in New Zealand, the Powerade Challenge pitted runners against the All Blacks and Olympians. 

Sky Sport’s Time Tunnel experience will run from 9am – 6pm at the following locations:

Queens Wharf Square in Wellington from Friday 11 July – Sunday 13 July
Halsey Wharf in Wynyard Quarter in Auckland from Thursday 17 July – Sunday 20 July

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