The London Marathon 2018 Marketing Campaign for Deafblind UK

I’ve contributed to many a marketing campaign.

Some were less direct contributions; for example, I wrote magazine articles on my clients’ behalf, whereas on others, I really threw myself into them – note the fresh faced 23-year-old below.

One that makes me particularly proud, however, is a PR campaign I ran for Deafblind UK.

Some background information first – Deafblind UK are a national charity providing care and assistance to those with dual sensory loss. In December 2016 I began writing for their bi-monthly magazine, Open Hand, and one year later, they presented me with a unique opportunity.

Running the London Marathon

It all started when I told their marketing team I’d run the York Marathon in October 2017: my first – and last – marathon! They suggested I sign up to run London on their behalf. My chances of getting in were slim, or so I thought.

By December I got the news, and with it, a fundraising target of £1,500. How on earth was I going to raise that amount of money in five months?!

The “Dares for Donations” marketing campaign

What’s the best way to appeal to the general public’s sense of goodwill? Christmas probably would have been the best way to go about it, but I’m not into clichés. Public humiliation was definitely the best way to go.

Well, if it could work for X Factor contestants, why couldn’t it work for me? I’m not sure where the idea came from – it probably just struck at one of those most inappropriate times, like on the toilet or something – but I was determined to make it work.

I set about creating a spreadsheet with “dares” and a suggested donation amount. The idea was simple: donate to Deafblind UK, and in exchange I would publicly humiliate myself with an idea of your choice. Unsurprisingly, nobody took me up on the suggested dares, so my first dare ended up looking a little something like this:

I can only assume with his whole “no mobile phone” thing, Simon Cowell must have missed this.

Getting in the press

With my dignity in tatters, I decided to take this to The Press. I capitalise this because I actually wrote a press release for The Press in York, who promptly published my story. I should add that, by this point, a video was quickly gaining in popularity on LinkedIn. This time around, I was roaring my way through Tesco singing Black Box’s Ride on Time. Of course.

york press dbuk

I owe big thanks to The Press – were it not for them, the marketing campaign would not have attracted the attention of That’s TV York. Pretty soon I was being interviewed for the local TV channel and the donations were rolling in from friends, family, and anybody unlucky enough to catch that LinkedIn video.

Working with the BBC

The lovely Rebecca at That’s TV York informed me that all of their content is sent through to the BBC. Sure enough, another couple of days passed and I received a Facebook message from the wonderful Joanita Musisi at BBC Radio York. She asked me to come in and talk about the cause, and of course, the ridiculous dares.

As soon as 2018 hit, I was in with Joanita discussing all the ways I had embarrassed myself. By this point, complete strangers were donating up to £100 at a time! The view count for the “Tesco dancing” video had far surpassed 80,000 by now. As I told listeners live on air that I would not be carrying out my mother’s suggestion of “breaking wind” in a library, I felt the last iota of dignity float away.

Raffle prizes

raffleWhile all of this was going on, I’d also been contacting local businesses to put together a raffle in time for Christmas. There were some incredible prizes donated, from Asda’s luxury bath sets to a selection of designer perfumes from Browns of York. It’s amazing how generous local businesses can be, so I’d advise any York fundraisers to start off close to home!

Hitting target

By January 11, just six weeks after the campaign started, we were on 99 per cent. One LinkedIn post later, another kind soul decided to donate, and we made it!

The York Press were kind enough to publish an update article, telling readers my “daft dares” were on target. From stuffing my face with chocolate cake to eating one of the world’s hottest chilli peppers, I’d say that was a pretty apt description.

The donations kept coming, even after the marathon, and I’m pleased to say that to date we’ve raised £1,780. Deafblind UK were kind enough to feature an article on all the marathon runners in their magazine:

marathon dbukThe lovely folks at BBC Radio York also had me on the show twice more – once before the big day, and once the day after. Thankfully the latter was just a phone call; while my lungs couldn’t be silenced, my legs had other ideas.

The takeaway

The London Marathon 2018 marketing campaign for Deafblind UK reaffirmed that you only get out of marketing what you put in. The strength of this campaign, I believe, was in its use of multimedia: print media to penetrate the wider press, video to create the content, radio to build awareness and social media to appeal to everybody as an individual. We were fortunate to have Christmas on our side, but the campaign did also demonstrate that being human and reaching out to real people will get you far.

If you’d like to donate to the campaign, you can do so here, or you can learn more about Deafblind UK’s incredible work on their website.

Sigh…and since you’ve come this far, you may as well watch that godawful video.

Special thanks go to Jo Smith at Deafblind UK, my fellow runners Charlotte Cook and Jake Norman, Vicky Thompson at the York Press, Rebecca Quarmby at That’s TV York, Joanita Musisi at BBC Radio York, all of the lovely local businesses in York and of course to all the donors!

marathon dbuk
Katie Lingo
by Katie Lingo
4th August 2018