One of a select group of PR agencies, Six Degrees was chosen to promote the first ever round the world non stop relay run and raise awareness of the lack of safe drinking water
Over a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and water-related illnesses are the leading cause of human sickness and death – 2.2m people, mostly children, die each year.
When American philanthropist, Jin Zidell, spotted two people running round a lake near his home in California, he was inspired to create the Blue Planet Run Foundation and from that the Blue Planet Run, the first ever round the world non-stop relay run to raise funds and awareness for safe drinking water projects and sponsored by Dow Chemical.
A global event, it would eventually involve 20 ‘citizen athletes’ running 15,200 miles across 16 countries in 95 days.
One of 10 global PR partners, Six Degrees was tasked with delivering sympathetic national, local and trade (charity and running publications) media coverage for the Run as it passed through Ireland and the UK, raising awareness of an issue that many people take for granted – clean drinking water.
Being passionate about the Blue Planet Run was absolutely critical for the team, aware that charity events in the UK are ‘ten a penny’ and that the media is often sceptical or bored (or both).
Creating the human face
The team needed a ‘human face’ in the lead up to the start of the Run, helping sow the seeds of the cause and build interest.
This came in the form of Paul Rogan, the only British runner. Originally from the North-East, but a Scottish resident for 20 years, 37-year old father-of-four Paul had left the UK twice, providing a ‘local hero goes global’ angle for regional press.
This approach proved irresistible to local media who loved the fact that Paul was an ordinary bloke doing an extraordinary thing.
His calm approach, combined with a genuine passion for the cause was so successful, led to profiles in ‘The Herald’s weekend supplement, ‘The Daily Record’, ‘Sunday Post’ and ‘Scottish Sun’, as well as ‘The Chronicle’ and ‘Journal ‘in Newcastle.
The fun really started when the Blue Planet Run reached Ireland on 4 June and the team organised photo calls and interviews as they ran across the country via Shannon, Limerick and Dublin and then onto Holyhead, Oxford and London.
Some in cars, others on the side of a busy main road or in a crowded ferry terminal, press interviews were conducted on the run – literally – emphasising the frenetic, non stop nature of the event. Photography at each handover point, combined with video converted to b-roll, was used to pitch the next port of call.
The high point came in London when the team persuaded ‘CBBC Newsround’, the BBC’s flagship children’s programme, to film Paul and his daughter running into London to exchange the symbolic runner’s baton in Trafalgar Square.
Combined with ‘BBC World Service’, ‘BBC Radio Five Live’, ‘LBC’, ‘Passion for the Planet’, ‘RTE2’ and ‘Clare FM’, the level and quality of broadcast coverage confirmed just how special this cause was. Audience reach for Ireland and the UK reached 11.5 million (excluding ‘CBBC Newsround’ figures).
“This campaign relied on sheer persistence, especially in the UK, a country overwhelmed by ‘amazing achievements for amazing causes’, according to one BBC producer we spoke to,” explains Mandy Hassall who led the account team, with consultants, Toby Poston and David Mieny.
“However, we achieved what we set out to achieve, especially for our British runner, Paul who really was the star of the show.”
Check out 12ahead, our brand new platform
covering the latest in cutting-edge digital marketing and creative technology from around the globe.
12ahead identifies emerging trends and helps
you to understand how they can apply to modern-day companies.
We believe 12ahead can put you and your
business 12 months ahead of the competition. Sign up for a free trial today.