Thought Leadership
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Challenge marketing for brands - Social media and challenge marketing go hand in hand

Roger Barr
23rd October 2014

How brands can tap into this ubiquitous yearning for self-aggrandisement.

Social media and challenge marketing go hand in hand. Smart marketeers have realised that it’s possible for brands to tap into this ubiquitous yearning for self-aggrandisement.

Make it easy

Possibly the best example of this would be the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. People filmed themselves pouring a bucket of ice water on their heads, donated to ALS and invited friends, usually three, to do the same using social media.

For all the negative side stories in the media the bottom line is The ALS association received $100.9 million dollars from July 29 to August 29 2014 v’s $2.8 million dollars in the same period in 2013.

Make it fun

Launched in 2004 Movember encourages men to grow a moustache during November and once again the initial aim was to raise money for men’s charities. From the walrus look to the handlebar men around the world look to out Mo each other.

Over the years the challenge has evolved and the reach has expanded as more and more mainstream brands have got on board. Gillette were a logical brand to get involved and in 2013 launched an ad campaign that preys on that social media driver, FOMO (fear of missing out).


Trust first, sales second

It’s a fine balance but brands that engage in challenge marketing need to build trust first. Challenges present an opportunity to spend quality time with consumers which should build loyalty and ultimately sales.

It’s interesting to note that Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette brand noticed a contraction in sales in it’s western markets for the fourth quarter where Movember sits. This hasn’t stopped them from investing in the 2014 Movember campaign and putting faith in the brand loyalty that can come from supporting the cause.

Make it worthwhile

Making people feel accountable while offering a tangible benefit can breed success. If that benefit happens to be weight loss, wellbeing and improved fitness then what could possible go wrong?

We took this approach with a client last year. Jantastic is a three month running challenge that starts in January and was delivered through the website In 2013 Adidas and England Athletics got behind the campaign growing the participants from 5000 in 2012 to over 21,000 in 2013.


The goal of Jantastic is to provide people the additional motivational nudge when it’s needed most - during the dark winter months that follow Christmas. In January, runners simply set personal targets for how often they would run, then in February how often and how far, then finally in March how often, how far and their predictions for a timed race.

Throughout the challenge runners were awarded badges, which provided additional micro goals to aim for.

To conclude

There is a danger that people will get challenge fatigue as more and more of these promotions emerge. Challenge marketing is evolving and brands need to continue to innovate and develop new angles to encourage participation. Follow #challengemarketing for more updates.

We work with several global sports and technology brands including the ASA, Everyone Active and Merrell, who focus heavily on encouraging members in their community to set new fitness goals and embark on new challenges. Couple this with the notable rise of wearable technology products hitting the streets we believe challenge marketing will remain firmly on the agenda for many brands.

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Interested in how we can strengthen your brand with challenge marketing concepts? Get in touch today –

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