UNC student analysis informs Mizuno Running ad campaign

May. 01, 2014 @ 04:40 PM

One of Chris Campbell’s first questions was “how would we even do that?” when he was presented with the challenge of quantifying the positive impacts of a national U.S. running movement.

Campbell was part of a team of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School master’s of business administration students who completed a statistical analysis of those impacts. They used multiple data sources to project that there would be 63 million happier dogs, 7 billion more hours spent outside and 135 million more victory beers, among other findings.

“When I read the initial briefing (that said) ‘we want to quantify the effects of an entire nation of runners’ I said, ‘how would we even do that?’” Campbell said. “‘How would you start?’ Just having a big question like that just sounds like a lot of fun.”

The team completed the analysis to inform an advertising campaign called “What if Everybody Ran?” for Mizuno Running, a division of a Japan-based manufacturer and marketer of sporting equipment, clothing and shoes. The campaign was created by McKinney, a Durham-based advertising agency that’s part of the ad network Cheil Worldwide.

The campaign included Mizuno Running’s first TV spot, which appeared April 21 in Boston on the day of the Boston Marathon as well as nationally that day on ESPN.

Ahmet Abaci, vice president of brand marketing and management for Mizuno USA, said the campaign also included a series of 15-second online videos and the website http://www.mizunousa.com/running/what-if-everybody-ran. He said McKinney has been the company’s agency partner for two years.

Running is one of the company’s fast-growing businesses, he said, and the message of the campaign is in line with the company’s mission.

“We believe in the transformative power of running,” he said.

Walt Barron, McKinney’s senior vice president and head of account planning, said the campaign website gives the user an experience that “mirrors the transformative power of running.” As the user scrolls down, the site depicts a man running through a changing environment.

“Literally it’s a journey, running is a journey, running transforms,” he said.

Barron said the agency wanted to work with the UNC business school students because of the school’s history in statistical analysis.

“And this is an academic exercise in a way, but it’s also not trying to absolutely predict the future,” he said. “It’s a big dream… I don’t think we are claiming to guarantee that this is a precise way that the world would transform, but it is an indication of how the world might look different,” he added.

The students were selected for the team from about 20 applicants. They were chosen to work on the month-long consulting project by a school staff member and a team from McKinney, according to a news release from Kenan-Flagler.

They used statistical, socio-economic and U.S. Census data to project the impact of running on health, relationships and the economy if all Americans were runners and then wrote a formal document that served as the basis for the campaign.

Using census and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, they made the assumption that about 270 million Americans could become regular runners, based on the size and age of the U.S. population, and accounting for people who are already running once a week.

Campbell said he was intrigued to try to answer what he called a big, “global question.” He said they were briefed by McKinney in mid-November with the initial idea, which helped them with some of the questions and end points they were thinking about. He said they tried to find as much data as they could.

“This idea of running as a transformative tool for doing and being something even better and stronger than you are is something I’ve always believed in,” said Ellen Kane, another student who worked on the analysis.