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
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