The story of Oltenia’s Marathon (OM) began seven years ago, as a social responsibility initiative of CEZ Group in Romania. After noticing that the event is an opportunity for the participants to reunite with old friends and competitors, we set the concept for the 2019 edition in 2019 to strengthen the connection with the entire community formed around it – employees, participants, partners.
All the insights collected following OM 2018 pointed out to a family event perception: 93% would come back next year, 87% would recommend OM to friends. For 2019 we planned and integrated communication campaign, in order to increase the visibility of the event and CEZ, as organizer and main supporter and to consolidate the community of athletes and volunteers traditionally involved in Oltenia’s Marathon, increase the notoriety of the social causes supported by this edition (Valcea Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Progress Foundation).
In 2019, we celebrated the seventh edition of Oltenia’s Marathon by opening the “borders” of The Marathon Land to its consolidated community of sportsmen, volunteers and partners. Having developed its own culture, history, community and song (based on the heart beats of athletes) in the previous editions, the next natural step for Oltenia’s Marathon was to be recognized as a nation, with a flag, a hymn, a passport with a valid visa, aka the Oltenian Marathon land. After setting up a new set of digital “embassies” (tools) for OM (website, WhatsApp newsletter, Wikipedia), we started the registrations for the event together with the launch of the concept. Communication plans for the internal and external communities has been developed and implemented taking into consideration monthly communication highlights. The Marathon land recognition tour involved, for the first time ever, the company`s marathon ambassador and CEO – Ondrej Safar, guided by Radu Restivan, a well known marathonist and trainer. In July, the OM new mobile app has been launched. Also, three non profit organizations were chosen to benefit from the help of the internal community. The OM competitors were able to choose the social cause they wished to support. The money collected from the participation fees was doubled by CEZ Group in Romania and split proportionally.
The communication was done through media (TV, radio, online partners), based on a previously agreed editorial plan, and through the social media channels of the event, of the bloggers, and the endorsers, as well as through the www.maratonulolteniei.ro site, OM mobile app, WhatsApp newsletters, Wikipedia page. For the first time in its history, the event was SOLD OUT 1 month before!
Employees were also given the option to decide which will the third social cause of the OM. Employee communication was conducted through online channels (internal newsletter, CEO letters, closed Facebook user group, emails) and directly, through the company’s Customer Care Centers.
The results encompass the communication efforts to make the Marathon Land known: 800 participants (+23% vs 2018, 150 volunteers from the employees (+50% vs 2018), 20.457 euros donated to the three social causes (+7% vs 2018), 871 WhatsApp newsletter contacts. About 900.000 viewers had the opportunity to see the event through the 10 live and recorded materials on national TV stations, 96 online articles, 5 printed articles in the local press. Facebook results tripled from 2018: reach of 6.309.714, 138.350 engaged users, 7.963.113 total impressions Also, 17 new partners also translated in a much more consistent competitor kit, widely appreciated.
The creative idea and its “nation” related executions not just managed to strengthen the community sport supporters, but also to enhance the beautiful vibe and landscapes of the Marathon’s unique routes. 2019 was the year when digital communication became part of the brand`s its DNA. Continuous innovation and every year upgrade ranked CEZ 2nd place in the “Top companies in Romania involved in sports” (May 2019), for the second year in a row, rank conducted by Adrenallina Sports PR & more.