Marketing the Frostbite Half Marathon

  • Jul 19, 2017

Several US military bases located in Asia hold open base events that attract large crowds. They act as a vehicle for public relations, create good will in the local community and offer the local base population an opportunity for fund raising and enjoyment. Members of the Rach team support one of our best customers as volunteers at an annual half marathon held on a military base in Japan. It is a case study in successful marketing by a private non-profit organization.

The running club has synergetic relationships with base services, school PTO groups, school sports teams, medical groups, base security and the fitness center. The network is the foundation allowing careful execution of the event. It's a terrific concept.

Consider the race a well packaged American experience. Ten thousand runners and five thousands race fans. Hamburgers, turkey legs, beer yards, Zumba warm ups, rock and roll music, national anthems, and theme costumes make an exciting atmosphere lasting six hours from start to finish. The running event has four decades of continuity.

Popular themes in marketing today are visibility, exclusivity, uniqueness, branded experience, creativity and successful use of sharing through social media. The marathon event checks each item off the list. The race is timed perfectly as a warm up to the Tokyo Marathon held February 26th.

The race course is an interesting tour of the base and includes closed off C-130 transport plane runways. Information about the event is easily located on running web sites, the group's Facebook page and other social media. Registration fills up in less than a week. The group's retail booth would be the envy of any organization trying to successfully sell items at events with large crowds.

These guys sold 3000 knit caps (beanies) in five hours. Amazing when you consider their total market base were the 15,000 Japanese visiting the annual event. They completely sold out. The experience behind the sales counter could well be described as witnessing a live "shark attack". Their beanie design includes the running club's name and logo. Colors change annually keeping them unique, and they've become a collector's item. A few of the Japanese runners have every custom beanie design ever offered at the race.

Sales are exclusive to the one annual event. The non-profit organization created a branded and exclusive product limited only to the participants of the one day event. It is a microcosm of the event itself. The excellent marketing concept has evolved organically and allows for enviable margins and a lot of fun for everyone involved. We'll be at the race again in 2018.