A behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of Tough Mudder’s sponsorship program
Nearly 10 years ago, Tough Mudder launched by word of mouth on Facebook, drawing several thousand participants in its first year. Now a platform with five different styles, and over 130 events per year in North America, Tough Mudder cleanly staked its claim early on in the endurance event space that consumers, and brand sponsors, enjoy today. With more than a dozen partners attached to the property and Chipotle now onboard this season as official restaurant partner, we chatted with the marketers behind Tough Mudder’s partnerships for insights on creating event sponsorship programs that grow. Here, four insights for brands to consider in weighing sponsorship options.
- REI Camps Out With Trail Runners as a Ragnar Series Sponsor
- Team-Building is the Real Winner of Bloomberg’s Square Mile Relay Event Series
Support attendees outside the event.
In addition to providing healthy food on-site at the Tough Mudder events, sponsor Chipotle and Tough Mudder are beaming pre-event content to participants to help them prepare for the big day. That includes offering downloadable nutritional guides, recipes and pre-event training. Content is one way a sponsor can stay involved in a property year-round.
“We look at the full customer journey, so from the time they register [for Tough Mudder] they’ll want training and nutrition content, they’ll want to know what to wear, what a training team looks like—so, we determine what points we could be working with a partner on to actually elevate that experience rather than just create something ourselves in that space,” says Rabia Qari, svp-marketing at Tough Mudder.
Solve pain points for consumers.
Tough Mudder is, obviously, a messy event with dirt, mud and other debris that participants run, climb, slither and swim through. So, it was only natural that two sponsors teamed up to provide at-event showers. Soap & Glory, the official beauty sponsor, and EveryManJack, the official grooming sponsor, linked together to activate wash stations at Tough Mudder events.
And addressing a literal pain point for participants, sponsor Nexcare and Ace’s activation at the events offers a prep station for participants to apply knee support taping or other care ahead of the race, and, of course, after-race care for any scrapes that occurred during the competition.
Create experiences for spectators.
One way Tough Mudder has evolved over the years is by creating an experience for the spectators. The Mudder Village Festival area now features a main stage with a live dj, lawn games and other activities (that are sponsored, of course); seating, food (including one free beer for racers and spectators); giveaways and events like a Mini Mudder course for kids.
“For so long the focus has been on the course and innovating on the course, which is a core part of the experience, but a huge part of what we’re seeing now is people coming to just hang out and watch their friends run, because it’s an experience for them as well,” Qari says.
Identify fresh angles to sponsor.
What began as an April Fool’s Day digital prank has become a full-fledged event program as Tough Mudder’s 10-city Ruff Mudder for dogs. Inspired by the “Puppy Bowl” for Super Bowl, Ruff Mudder, presented by retail partner Chewy, is a free add-on event for Tough Muddler participants that is a muddy obstacle course for dogs. A non-endemic sponsorship tie-in? Check.
New this year, Tough Mudder is diving into the white-hot, yet still stigmatized and alternative, CBD space by teaming up with Endoca, an organic hemp product brand. Endoca is offering sample drops of its organic CBD oil, and consumers will also have the opportunity to learn from Endoca’s team about CBD and its health benefits. Because what better way to cap off an active day than a wellness experience for body and mind.
Photo courtesy: Tough Mudder