Retired Southampton Football Club legend Francis Benali always kept himself fit after he finished competitive football following a 16-year career at the south coast team. As head coach at the Matt Le Tissier Natural Coaching academy, ‘Franny’ maintains a high level of fitness, however he had a yearning to do more. For sometime he had considered a challenge that would test his physical and mental limits. This thought had been kicking around for a while until one day in the late spring of 2014 he crystallised the idea into an ultra run. Running to all 20 Premier League stadiums one after the other in no more than 21 days, this meant running an average of over 45 miles a day. Franny felt that tackling something this challenging needed to be done for more than just personal reasons and he made the decision to do the run to raise much need funds for Cancer Research UK and as he said in his numerous interviews during the build up, most families have been touched by cancer, his being no different. So it was all coming together, the challenge, the charity and the motivation.
To attract awareness the challenge needed an identity, something that would convey what the run was about and why Franny was attempting such a feat. As a football coach to the son of Livewire’s MD it was an obvious partnership and soon Benali’s Big Run was created. Franny asked Livewire to develop a brand and assets that would be used across every touch point used for promoting the challenge including a website, blog, social channels, branded clothing and marketing materials. In addition Livewire helped to mange assets for the media, creating a secure online repository for the media networks to download content on a daily basis for use on TV and press. The website would be the main focus for promoting the challenge with integrated social engagement across Twitter, Facebook and Google+ with a clear message; support Franny to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research. Livewire worked closely with main sponsor, 4Com, along with a raft of other businesses all pledging their support to help Franny and the now growing support team complete the challenge.
The Benali’s Big Run brand incorporates the Cancer Research UK colours and plays on the Southampton Football Club abbreviated club name, the Saints, as Franny wanted to bring that personal touch to the logo. The Running Saint strapline was subtly incorporated, as too was a list of the 20 Premier League clubs. This logo was to feature across a broad spectrum of different media, culminating in its appearance on the big screen at the St Mary’s stadium at the homecoming that was widely covered on BBC, ITV and Sky TV. For the 9 month period the charity campaign will run, the brand continues to feature in the media and has become synonymous with Franny Benali’s never give up attitude.
To provide Franny with a digital communications platform for Benali’s Big Run, Livewire dedicated a blog area on the Jellyfish Livewire website where 100’s of stories, updates, videos and pictures were uploaded for the fast growing band of supporters up and down the country and indeed across the world who would come to monitor the activity during the build up and the run itself with daily traffic volumes regularly in the high 1000’s.To ensure the site was providing the information fans, supporters and the media wanted, Livewire not only updated the site daily but we also served up a real time running total of the money being raised via the Just Giving api, this was complemented by a daily update of the number of steps taken and calories burned, thanks to fitness technology company Fitbit. The Fitbit api allowed us to integrate the data from the wrist band Franny was wearing. But the most impressive component and in fact most intensely used feature on the website was the real time GPS tracking that showed Franny’s exact whereabouts on the gruelling 1,000 mile route. Livewire sourced the smallest wearable GPS tracking device from a company in Canada and with a little clever coding the data was seamlessly integrated into a dedicated page on the website. During the run, analysis told us that regionally visitors to the site would use the ‘where’s Franny’ GPS tracker to identify locations and times to turn out to offer their support and the nearer he got to home at Southampton, the crowds grew larger as Saints fans and supporters lined the streets in swelling numbers. The GPS tracker was incredibly accurate and made it easy for keen supporters to find the team on the road. The media also used the data to identify where to catch up with Franny and the team for the numerous roadside interviews and updates.To support the website, the social media activity was able to keep the 1,000’s of followers updated with every detail of the run with Twitter providing the fastest way to publish information about arrival times to stadiums and sharing the details about which football star was meeting or joining Franny on the run. As things on the road tended to be fluid, the use of social media proved to be vital in sharing the team’s progress with Franny’s son and daughter, Luke and Kensie, on hand to provide the up to the minute content and videos.All in all the culmination of the website, live GPS tracking, up to the minute information from the road via social media and the great content made this a project a complete success from a campaign point of view.
The Benali’s Big Run project has now raised over £200,000 for Cancer Research UK. By bringing together a group of dedicated and determined people supported by a true multi channel marketing plan, a wonderful result has been achieved and from Jellyfish Livewire’s point of view it was a pleasure to be so involved in the project.
Benali’s Big Run afforded Jellyfish Livewire a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate our full range of marketing services and for such a worthy cause.