Fitness has taken a brand-new course and it’s leading brands to follow. Endurance competitions like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and CrossFit Games focus on personal fitness and trading the gym for the great outdoors. They test strength, endurance, and dedication and push people past their comfort zones. With millions of participants and a rapidly growing fan base, these sports competitions are clearly going the distance and marketers want to join in. To see why endurance competitions are working out for brands, AdAge.com got in on the action.
It’s important to understand that these sports are really hard-core. Tough Mudder is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course filled with tall walls and mud tunnels. It’s a rough, tough test of endurance that gets you dirty through good, clean fun. In 2013, these events had 700,000 participants and sponsorships with Dos Equis, Advil, Wheaties, BIC, and the U.S. Army.
Spartan Race is another type of obstacle course, but it’s more rigorous and more of a race. Reebok is the title sponsor and the events had half-a-million participants last year, which was more than twice the amount of the previous year.
Then there’s the cult favorite called CrossFit Games. Rather than an obstacle course, it’s a series of extremely demanding workouts based on the popular strength and conditioning program. As proof of its popularity, participation doubled last year to reach 138,000 enthusiasts and the finals were broadcast on ESPN. Once again, Reebok is a title sponsor.
Speaking of sponsorships, Dos Equis became a sponsor of Tough Mudder four years ago after discovering that 70 percent of participants were male and their average age was 29. The brand realized they could even get more mileage out of the partnership by placing their branding on the notorious Electroshock Therapy obstacle of live wires, which gets a great deal of social media exposure from posted photos.
And Reebok reigns when it comes to endurance competitions. The athletic apparel brand has a 10-year sponsorship deal with CrossFit Games and just became a sponsor of Spartan Race last year.
Not content to just sit back and market their brand in the competitions, Reebok is actively involved in promoting these sports and developing products for participants. Reebok has an exclusive footwear and apparel license with the CrossFit fitness program and sold one million pairs of the special sneaker they developed for the program last year. In addition, Reebok’s recent partnership with Spartan Race has already led to the design of a brand-new series of sneakers for obstacle racing that’s scheduled for release in February.
These branding sponsorships are strategic for Reebok. The brand has been striving to reposition itself to focus on personal fitness rather than rather than team sports. This may surprise some who had come to associate Reebok with the NFL, but the end of that 10-year contract in 2012 gave the brand a chance to make a fresh start and run with the trend toward personal fitness and workouts that don’t feel like work.
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Written by Michael Del Gigante