Why The North Face challenged Strava users to get out and run

By Awards Analyst | The Drum Awards

June 20, 2022 | 4 min read

The North Face and PHD Global won both the Chair Award and the Media Planning or Buying category atThe Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. Here, we find out more about what went into its winning project...

The brief

The campaign objective was to launch The North Face’s new trail running shoe, the Vectiv, and drive the brand’s re-entry into the trail running category in Europe. PHD Global needed to achieve significant reach against its target audience to drive brand awareness, new brand associations and short-term sales.

The North Face needed to get the word out to trail runners, and do so while its stores were out of bounds and the world in various states of lockdown, in a way that was socially responsible but commercially successful.

The idea

Research showed runners were 117% more active during the pandemic and 52% identified developing skills as a key activity during the pandemic. In addition, the brand’s target audience over-indexed on technology and gadgets, yet was 1.5-times more likely to notice OOH advertising.

Taking to Strava, the world’s leading community of runners and riders, The North Face wanted this group to feel connected and inspired during a time when we all felt lonely.

To make a legitimate connection, the North Face set up the ‘Power Further, Together’ challenge, where any Strava member that ran, hiked, wheeled or scrambled their way across 100km of terrain in March 2021 would be rewarded with a coveted badge for their Strava profile and the chance to win a pair of Vectiv sneakers.

The challenge was also gamified with timed trails across popular running routes in London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and Barcelona.

The North Face then mined the Strava running API to find the most popular green running routes in these five cities. These were used to both set the Strava challenges and to ensure the OOH and DOOH placements were on running routes. PHD crafted a European media plan using a combination of OOH tenancies, DOOH, mobile and social along and in-proximity to those routes to compel people to get involved.

OMGDOOH created a unique dynamic template for use in DOOH based on the wider campaign visuals produced by Bigger. Using an API connection, the latest Strava data from runners on these key routes were updated directly in the DOOH creative on JC Decaux’s panels in London and Berlin.

When the challenge dropped, it lit up Strava, becoming the trending challenge in-feed and gaining over 250,000 sign-ups across Europe within 48 hours of the challenge being launched, quickly dwarfing the sign-up numbers seen in the USA.

Finally, the entire campaign was supported by digital and print placements in running magazines, with advertorials as well as social and programmatic buys in premium video DSPs that targeted The North Faces’s pioneer and adventurer targets with creative showing the shoe’s power.

The results

Over 500,000 runners took on the challenge in Europe, running more than 35 million miles in total. To The North Faces’s knowledge, this makes its challenge the largest co-branded running event of all time.

It also drove immediate brand and business growth following the activation with an unaided brand awareness lift of 4.1 points. Within running shoes/apparel, a growth of plus 344% net sales was achieved as well as an 86% increase in the share of the market and 468% sales in women’s apparel.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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