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Adidas mobile campaign lets consumers track London Marathon runners

Adidas ran a mobile campaign to extend its sponsorship of the London Marathon.

Adidas tapped Marvellous to create a Java application for the mobile Web that tied together with radio-frequency identification chips in runners? shoes with timing mats on the course. People could enter a specific runner?s unique code via the application or online to get the latest information on that competitor?s progress and projected finish time.

?Adidas is a prime sponsor of a number of marathons around the world, they wanted us to help extend and amplify that sponsorship, so we created the adidas Runner Tracker,? said Jon Carney, CEO of Marvellous, London. ?This came out off our insight that everybody who runs a marathon runs it not as an individual but with loads of support from family and friends.

?We created something to help runners stay in touch with their support system while running a marathon,? he said. ?The application lets family and friends follow a runner around the marathon course and cheer on their loved one.

?The campaign was designed to inspire people to run better with the support of their loved ones and it is Adidas encouraging them to achieve the impossible."

Adidas AG is a German-based retailer of sportswear and is part of the Adidas Group, which comprises Reebok, TaylorMade and Rockport.

Its tagline in current ad campaigns is ?Impossible is Nothing.?

Adidas has run its Runner Tracker mobile marketing initiative with Marvellous during the past two London Marathons.

This year, adidas featured the mobile call-to-action ?Text the keyword RUN to the short code 83040? within print advertising and on billboards around London.

Those who texted in received a text-message with a WAP link redirecting to a mobile site where they could access the application.

Information available within the mobile application included a mapped location, average speed and estimated finish time for the specific runner, meaning that friends and family could be in the right place at the right time.

The application is compatible with practically all handsets across all British carriers.

Supporters could also send personalized messages of encouragement to large digital displays around the course, which appeared as each runner approached them.

The digital displays around London and the application itself both featured Adidas branding.

News of the adidas Runner Tracker tool was seeded on runners? blogs and social media to drive usage of the application and conversations about adidas.

London Marathon Facebook groups were used to post targeted messages promoting the service. An official adidas London Marathon Facebook page also encouraged users to access the mobile application.

Targeted updates were tweeted to influential and relevant members of Twitter.

Alerts were set up so that anyone searching for the Marathon could be contacted with a personalized message encouraging them to interact with the application and the Adidas brand.

All Runner Tracker tweets included LondonMarathon so the information showed up in marathon search results, including Web sites aggregating the Twitter coverage.

More than 500,000 people interacted with the adidas Runner Tracker mobile application this year.

Approximately two-thirds of that traffic was generated directly from users? handsets, with the other third coming from the Web site.

More than 1 million people were exposed to conversations about the Adidas Runner Tracker via social media.

Adidas has plans to extend the Runner Tracker campaign internationally, possibly even to the New York Marathon.

Adidas is leveraging the mobile channel to build brand awareness around adidas Originals in Berlin, Germany (see story).

Adidas has run mobile advertising campaigns within carrier Tele2's mobile portal in Sweden (see story).

Adidas tapped mobile ad network AdMob and ad agency Isobar for a mobile advertising campaign to promote its Originals collection of vintage clothing, retro shoes and urban wear that blend '70s and '80s designs with sports styles (see story).

?This campaign showed that Adidas is an enabling brand rather than just an advertiser, helping people improve their running time by letting them know that people were following them and supporting them,? Mr. Carney said.

?It was a world?s first and it gave innovation to the brand,? he said. ?It was a smart use of simple technologies and it?s won every award you can image.?