Nike Women’s Marathon is Part Spa, Part Girls’ Night Out
Female runners aren’t just male runners in pink shoes. They’re just as serious about kicking ass on race day as they are interested in looking good and feeling good while they’re doing it. Leave it to Nike to once again prove its branding prowess by recognizing its target’s unique differences, and then celebrating them to their full potential at its fourth annual Women’s Marathon held in San Francisco.
The marathon (aimed at women ages 25 to 32) kicked off with a three-day race expo called Expotique. So much more than a place to pick up your race t-shirt and chip, the Expotique was more like a spa getaway and girl’s night out all rolled into one. Participants nibbled on hors d’oeuvres and sipped wine, snacked on Ghirardelli chocolates and enjoyed free manicures.
Tiffany & Co. raffled off diamond earrings every hour and of course, all attendees had the opportunity to hop on a treadmill and try out the Nike+ technology first hand, or, uh, foot.
“Everything was through this very feminine lens,” says Megan Thayer, senior event manager at Nike. “We wanted it to be young and fresh and fun, have a feminine tonality to it and have everything be of value and this amazing experience that only a premium brand delivers.”
Coat checks, oxygen bars and foot care stations complete with fresh socks were just a few of the on-course perks. To motivate runners, there were five Family Cheer Stations, two dj stations, a Little Sister Lane filled with hundreds of cheering middle school girls and more than 15 live music stations. Runners could even stop at the Scenic Photo Station at the Golden Gate Bridge for a quick snapshot.
An 80-foot tunnel with digitally enhanced paneled walls and a pumping soundtrack delivered the Nike+ message. Nike+ running shoe sensors connect to an iPod nano, which tracks time and mileage. Users can upload their data to the Nike+ website to track their progress. With the race booked to capacity at 20,000 runners, Nike launched its first-ever virtual marathon. Retail stores across the country hosted race day stations where participants could grab some free water and run their races together. Over three thousand women ran virtually, using the Nike+ technology.
“We could reward and incent people and make them feel like they were part of the experience while at the same time giving them a chance to use our product,” says Thayer. “It really touched on all of our objectives in terms of getting more awareness about Nike+ and creating this great consumer experience.”
At the finish, ladies got the luxury treatment, including Tiffany & Co. necklaces for all finishers, (delivered on silver platters by San Francisco fire fighters), healthy snacks, heat sheets, a powder room, massages, yoga stretch sessions and mini facials.
Post-event, retail sales at the finish were up 48 percent from 2006, Nike+ sports kit sales at the San Francisco Niketown store were up 77 percent and Nike+ footwear sales in the same store were up 400 percent.