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Adidas Campaign Links Runners With Friends & Family For London Marathon

adidas_running_girl.jpgAdidas knows a lot about athletes – not only professionals but also serious amateurs such as weekend marathoners.

And one thing Adidas has found through research is that marathon runners don’t achieve their goals alone – it requires a lot of support from family and friends to make their personal dreams a reality.

To promote their their sponsorship of the 2009 London Marathon, Adidas decided to use mobile technology to help the runners and spectators stay connected during the race, by providing the Mobile Marathon Tracker, and Personalized Runner Messages.

The London marathon attracts around 30,000 runners and close to a million spectators. Clearly a big issue for runners is how they can stay connected to their support group of family and friends during the race.

Whether it’s sending a message of encouragement, finding the right place to stand to watch as runners go by, or keeping track of progress and time during the race, Adidas knew that building a link between runners and fans would make the marathon more enjoyable for all. So they teamed up with agencies Carat and Marvellous to offer two leading edge, location aware mobile services.

Mobile Marathon Tracker

The main idea for this service was to let spectators keep track of where their favorite runners were during the course of the race. This way the supporters could position themselves at just the right place and the right time in order to see their friends run past.

To access a runner’s location, spectators simply needed to go to a special WAP site and enter the race number for the person they wanted to track. The site would then provide information on that competitor’s progress, including a mapped location, average speed and estimated finish time.


This was accomplished by tapping into the main timing system for the overall race. The runners had RFID tags attached to their shoes, and the race had installed timing mats every 5 km. The mobile tracker could retrieve their last known positions, make an estimate of their running speed, and therefore estimate their current position.

The Mobile Tracker site also provided other useful information for fans such as information on the marathon course, weather forecast, and how to travel to the different parts of the course. There was also a simple means to invite a friend to use the mobile tracker site.


Personalized Runner Messages

The second service Adidas provided at the London Marathon let friends and family send individualized messages of encouragement and support to the runners as they were on the race course. After several hours of hard running these messages could be a big support for the runners.


The messages were collected at the Expo registration before the race, and each was identified by the number of the runner that it was intended for.


Adidas set up large video screens in certain locations next to the race and fed them with specially selected messages. Knowing the location of each competitor enabled them to display the personalized messages for that runner as they were going past the screen.


Distribution and Results

The mobile marathon tracker was promoted widely: online at, through social communities such as Twitter and Facebook, in blogs, on full page ads in selected London newspapers, and on large billboards at the race site.

The result was that these two services were widely used during the race. A few of the figures that have been released about this campaign:

  • The Mobile Tracker app tracked over 10% of the runners, and there were on average 17 searches per tracked runner during the event.
  • Over 500,000 people interacted with the Mobile Tracker app.
  • 5,250 runners received personal messages of support, and messages were seen by 35,000 runners.

Barry Moore, Head of Communications at Adidas UK explained why he liked this campaign, “The consumer that we target is very mobile savvy, so to find something that they have not heard of before – let alone used – was of great value to us as a brand. The reaction from me is that we are going to be using this year after year.”


06.09.2009    Tags: , , ,
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