Fisherman’s: Strong Lozenges, Strongman Mud Run
They came, they ran, they crawled, they jumped, they conquered. It was all part of the Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run, a one-of-a-kind, demanding and cutting-edge experience that in February 2007 pushed 1,930 German participants to the limit as 12,000 spectators cheered them on. The runners overcame 11 obstacles, bounding up hills formed of bales of hay, stepping through piles of rubber tires, crawling through concrete drainage pipes and fording muddy streams as part of a six-kilometer (that’s nearly four miles) course that they had to master twice around the Lutzow barracks in Munster.
“The primary goal was to credibly communicate the brand essence of ‘strength,’ to strengthen our image, to increase revenues and stabilize our market positioning,” says Maren Dragon, product manager at Fisherman’s Friend. Lofty goals, for sure, but attainable nonetheless as evidenced by the results. Fisherman’s Friend had hoped to generate 50 million media impressions, which it beat by 50 percent, and generated TV, print, radio and online coverage for a value of 1.4 million euros. It generated more than a million Google searches. During a promotional period in which participants registered online at fishermansfriend.de and received a collateral newsletter, page views and the number of newsletter subscribers sextupled.
Fisherman’s Friend is an English brand of lozenges developed in 1865 by a young pharmacist to soothe the sore throats of local fisherman and remains popular to this day with runners and outdoors enthusiasts. Known for its strong menthol and eucalyptus flavor, its tagline is “Strongest There Is.”
Hence the emphasis on strength, which the German’s picked up and, er, ran with. As the number one sport in Deutschland with 19 million fans, running provided the ideal theme for the event. Adding the obstacles to the course took the race to a whole new level. “The brand Fisherman’s Friend had to be experience-able and the German claim, ‘If they are too strong, you are too weak’ had to be supported and made more popular,” Dragon says.
The Strongman Run targeted 19- to 39-year-old adventurous males who proved they were up to the challenge of the “strongest run ever,” which provided the platform for a 10-month marketing campaign and retail promotion. Support included TV, radio, online, out-of-home and guerrilla efforts. Running shoe maker Brooks partnered with the event, distributing info cards at running trade shows, marathons and inside its shoe boxes and offered registrants a 10 percent discount. Specialty retailer LEX, which operates 80 stores in Germany, also supported the event with window displays and in-store materials.
Shortly after it was announced that there would be a second edition of the Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run in April 2008, more than 5,000 advance reservations poured in before the venue was announced. As a result, applications to run had to be closed before the 2008 campaign had even started. This year the program is expanding to Belgium, England, Finland and Italy, with more countries to follow in 2009.
So, it looks like the Strongman Run is off to a running start.