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How Nike won with BREAKING2, and so could you!

One of the most followed sports marketing campaigns in recent years was BREAKING2, the audacious attempt by Nike to run the first ever sub 2 hour marathon. This was a brilliant example of an event-based campaign, playing around with a simple concept, for a powerful effect.

The Influence of Time

In recent weeks we have been studying the influence of time, on what we do.

In BREAKING2, Nike tapped into 2 powerful influences

1. our insatiable interest in stories, especially around our progress as a human race – and,

2. the influence of time as a symbol.

Milestones that Matter

The 2hr marathon is the perfect example of the attraction of milestones in our lives. And Nike recognized a couple of things that made this campaign work so well. The 2hr mark is a powerful symbol of progress, and, it is easily identified with. The fact is, in physical terms, a 2hr run isn’t hugely more impressive than a 2hr 1 minute marathon. I’m sure the first ever 1.59min barrier won’t have anywhere near the same impact on us all. It’s just that we all love a milestone that we can easily identify with. And milestones matter. Remember what we found out about the ‘9-enders’ and marathons.

The Influence of A Time

We also studied the power of finish lines recently, and there is more evidence of this effect. Take George Wu’s study into 9 million marathon finish times. He found that significantly more people finished just ahead of ‘threshold times’, that is the 3hr, 4hr, and 5 hr. marks.

That is the milestone effect in action. We push ourselves for moments that matter.

The Meaning in a Milestone

So if there is so much meaning in milestones, should you look to see what milestones you can make matter in your event? In the campaign, and the event itself.

For example, what fan membership and attendance milestones can you leverage off? What signing up and showing up milestones can you celebrate for your participants?

The much celebrated success story that is parkrun celebrates the milestones of runners, with ’50 Run’ and ‘100 Run’ T-Shirts providing recognition, and aspiration, for all the runners.

And don’t forget the influence of milestones for your team. parkrun also celebrates the milestones of volunteers, one of the primary reasons for their success.

What can you celebrate that matters to you and your team? And, don’t forget the power of a milestone for your partners and stakeholders, your Board and important others.

I believe the more we understand the influence of time, the more influence we may have.

After all, when you boil it down, events are about motivating your people to get together for a moment in time. Ideally for the time of their lives.

So, if I can help you create more influential events, just let me know.

Ready when you are!

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