Apparently I’m one of those who does anything for a free drink. Okay, calm down, not quite. But I’ll run 9km after work, mostly in the dark, for a free bottle of Powerade. How much does a Powerade bottle even cost? I have a feeling I’m being a bit cheap. Don’t tell me.
It’s the third year in a row that I get an RFID bracelet in the post to enter the Powerade Challenge, which will be on in both Auckland and Wellington until the end of June this year. Last year, I somehow managed to make it downtown a grand total of zero times for the challenge. This year, I’ve had the bracelet for three days and have gone down there once so far so that’s already a 100% increase over last year’s efforts. The secret to excellent results lies in setting the expectations really, really, really low.
The challenge is a simple yet really good marketing idea, for a number of reasons:
– It’s free to enter (free stuff tends to be worth the money)
– It gives you free stuff (with potentially extra prizes)
– It’s fairly easy
– It’s centrally located
– It’s on during Winter, giving people extra motivation to get out there
– It appeals to competitive people
– It can be done at any time, day or night
It may be a 9km run, which is not what a lot of people are up for on weekdays, but it is a very flat course, so the difficulty level isn’t so high that it puts most people off. The challenge starts by the ferry building, in downtown Auckland, where runners scan their bracelets on the Powerade vending machine. They then set off on their way, running towards Mission Bay along the waterfront. About 1.5km into it (maybe less, I was too busy jumping over puddles to notice), a massive interactive billboard shows “GO <RUNNER’S NAME>!” which is a cute little detail if you’re into stuff like seeing your name in neon lights in a big billboard (AND WHO ISN’T?). At the halfway point, at the end of a boardwalk, runners scan their bracelet on a different vending machine, which tells them how long it’s taken them to get there (about 26 minutes if you’re me, about 16 minutes if you’re the human-shaped machine who scanned his bracelet right after me). Then it’s time to run back to the ferry building, another 4.5km, where runners scan their bracelet one final time for the free bottle of Powerade.
My completely unscientific research, based solely on my own assumptions, makes me think that weekdays after 5pm are probably some of the busiest times for the challenge. That’s when I ran it on Thursday and there were a bunch of other blue-bracelet wearing runners out there, probably getting their after-work run in for the day. The fact that so many people run the challenge at the same time helps create a bit of a social atmosphere, even if you’re just doing it on your own and not talking to anyone else, because you see their bracelets and know you’re all running for the same reason. Awww, buddies.
By signing up for the challenge, you also get your own dashboard on the website, where you’re able to track all your runs (which get automatically logged on there) and check your progress. Plus, you can join teams and work towards a collective ranking, further adding to that competitive side of things. I logged that run on Strava, Nike+ and the Powerade website which makes me think all this self-tracking deal is getting a little out of hand.
If parking in downtown Auckland wasn’t such a challenge in itself, I’d probably do it even more often. But I’m still looking forward to taking the bracelet out a few more times before the end of June. I guess if I absolutely had to give some negative feedback about the challenge, I’d say that Powerade could very well promote their brand through the billboards and vending machines and bracelets and all that, but partner with the whiskey store for the whole free drinks part of the deal. Nothing against the blue sugary electrolytes, which tasted great after the run, but I’d run further (and potentially faster) if there were other options on offer.
May 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm
That sounds like fun. Will I still get free Gatorade if I do the course in my car?
May 10, 2013 at 10:51 pm
And I though I’d overused the brand name in the post. Clearly not.
May 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm
$EO, $EO…Oh, uh, technically speaking, 1 is not a 100% increase over zero.
May 10, 2013 at 11:50 pm
My blog, my maths.
May 11, 2013 at 5:59 am
May 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm
May 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm
what a great idea! and good advertising. i wonder how much it costs them to put on, between the machine and the billboards and the RFID bracelets.
funny enough my husband and i will be in NZ on Monday and sloooowly make our way up to Auckland in two weeks. where’s some good running?
May 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm
Oh that’s awesome. Flying into Wellington? So much good running to do along the way, really depends where your stops are. Pretty much anywhere really. Make sure you stop in Taupo and Rotorua on your way up to Auckland if you can!
May 12, 2013 at 11:44 am
Thanks! Flying into Christchurch to see friends and walking the Heaphy Track first, then up to Wellington, Napier, and Auckland. Definitely planning to stop in Taupo! 🙂
May 11, 2013 at 12:11 am
That sounds like a lot of fun. I’m usually skeptical of stuff that’s all branded up and shit but that really sounds like something I’d be into.
May 11, 2013 at 2:38 am
There’s no alcohol in Powerade. I don’t get it. :p
May 11, 2013 at 11:05 pm
Haha, I know. I’m weird these days.
May 11, 2013 at 3:38 am
That sounds like an adventure that I would love. I could totally get into something like that. But I seriously don’t see Rochester, NY doing anything like that ANYTIME soon. Maybe one day!!!
May 11, 2013 at 5:56 am
Powerade is yummy! 🙂 Even better than free drinks, I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award! 🙂
May 11, 2013 at 11:05 pm
Aw thanks! 😀
May 11, 2013 at 8:40 am
I can’t wait to it! My wristband has been patiently waiting… I was hoping this weekend but feel like I need to let my leg rest another week. My commute to/from work goes along the waterfront and I’ve seen so many people out there.
And if it makes you feel better, I’ve also registered the two previous years and not made one single run…. 🙂
May 11, 2013 at 11:06 pm
Haha that does make me feel better, thanks! 😉
May 11, 2013 at 9:55 am
Hmmm my wristband arrived a couple of days ago… maybe it’s about time I get cracking!
May 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm
Do it! Do it!
May 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm
Dude, I would totally run for free powerade. Worth it.
May 14, 2013 at 10:44 am
What a great idea. So as long as you run the out and back 9k and scan your bracelet, you get a powerade from their machine when you finish? And your name on a billboard? Where do I sign up?
They must get a ton of local press from this type of publicity “stunt”.
May 14, 2013 at 11:45 pm
Yep, pretty much! And apparently you also go in the draw to win other prizes. Neat marketing idea, really. I don’t see much about it in the press, honestly, but just the billboard alone should be enough for them. It’s super well located.
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