Out-of-home, technology and pavement pounding collide in The Powerade Challenge

For years, brands have created ads and placed them in appropriate media in the hope that they’d help sell more of their stuff. These days, brands are increasingly creating experiences in the real world that are relevant to the product and involving consumers in those experiences. And The Powerade Challenge, a 9km running course/interactive marketing campaign around Auckland’s waterfront, is a prime example of this shift. 

After the weekend/weeknight running warriors register, they receive an RFID bracelet in the post (they cost $4-5 each, so registrations are limited to 3000). They run the course, check in at three Powerade vending machines along the way and then their time is uploaded to a website. Adshels and billboards have been secured along the way and pavement media will also accompany them on their journey.

The idea, which was dreamed up by Naked Communications and also involved Coca-Cola’s agency Ogilvy, Ikon (which scouted the course routes options) and Satellite (which researched and coordinated all the technology solutions), isn’t new, of coure, but it’s still pretty damn cool and it’s a great way to bring the product to life. Nike uses similar technology in its Nike+ shoes and Nike’s Gridrun in London required runners to head to various phone booths, call a number to get instructions and then run to the next one, with the data then uploaded to a website. The New York and Auckland marathons also use RFID anklets (in New York, supporters can send in a video and as participants run through a checkpoint, it sets the video off on the big screen).

Naked Communication’s Matt O’Sullivan doesn’t think anything like this has been done before in New Zealand. And he believes it’s slightly different to these international examples because it combines out-of-home media and technology to turn what many consider an everyday thing—a run—into a memorable, personal and interesting experience (in some ways, it’s a similar strategy to that employed for ecostore’s personalised magazine cover on ACP’s Little Treasures).

The Challenge also taps into the competitive streak of runners by letting them compare times online and, as Powerade sponsors the All Blacks, it’s thought some of the team will run the course, either as a PR stunt or on their own time, so participants can compare themselves with the cream of the crop.

The course is open for two months starting Monday and runners can complete it as often as they want to try and improve their times. There’s also the additional lure of weekly Powerade prizes.

So, the athletes have their challenge. But no word yet on whether Coca-Cola will create something for the other large chunk of Kiwis who consume its blue elixir. StopPress thinks a course requiring extremely hungover participants to go from one greasy food stop to the next, possibly in their car, while stopping at various dairies and petrol stations for a blue Powerade along the way, would be immensely popular.

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